The daisies have been talking again – the girls brought in a clump the other day from their Saturday afternoon hours in the country. Somewhere long ago I saw that the reason they spread out their leaves flat on the ground – so flat the scythe does not touch them – is because the flowers stretch out their little hands, as it were, to keep back the blades of grass that would shut out the sunlight. They speak so of the need of deliberately holding back everything that would crowd our souls and stifle the freedom of God’s light and air. 6 April 1899
Fresh as a daisy. Somehow the very essence of a daisy is synonymous with freshness: sunshiny disks of yellow fringed with dewy white petals. Gazing at this painting, while seated at a balcony table of my Central Florida home on a mild January day, gladdens my heart. Imagine what it must have been for Lilias when presented with the live daisies during a hot Algerian spring.
While drinking in the fresh beauty given to her as an offering of love, Lilias recalls a bit of botany (another personal passion). The secret of the daisies survival in a hostile climate was the spreading out of their leaves flat on the ground – “stretching our their little hands, as it were” – to keep back the blades of grass that would shut out the sunlight.
Then, in typical Lilias fashion, she moved from the visible world to the invisible: “The daisies, have been talking…” she writes and proceeds to “hear” a spiritual reality in this physical phenomenon. The daisies spoke of the importance of – the need of – “deliberating holding back everything that would crowd our souls and stifle the freedom of God’s light and air. ”
What are the things that can “crowd” ones soul? Busyness, at start, over-commitment to too many things… information over-load with news being broadcast 24/7 from gadgets attached to our very person… dwelling on and/or brooding over little slights or wrongs… harboring a grudge (after all, it’s the principle of the thing)… regrets over what happened/ worries over what might happen… Oh, the list could go on and on.
The consequences of the above are sometimes so subtle as to go undetected until one experiences an emotional/spiritual meltdown. Somehow, along the way, we have stifled the “freedom of God’s light and air.” We are suffocating.
Oswald Chambers writes: “Being born again from above is an enduring, perpetual, and eternal beginning. It provides a freshness (my italics) all the time in thinking, talking, and living – a continual surprise of the life of God.” Unless… unless I stifle the freedom of God’s “light and air.” Staleness can be an indication that something in our lives is out of step with God, that something is crowding out our very life source.
There are, indeed, many sources of renewal – strategies we have employed to energize and refresh us on every level: physical, intellectual, emotional, relational, spiritual. But if we depend on any source other than God for our ultimate strength and renewal, we will be disappointed. They will fail us.
But God will not fail us. This is the promise of Scripture and the testimony of pilgrims throughout the ages. The psalmist proclaimed, “He restores my soul” and his dying testimony was that God “is like the light of morning at sunrise on a cloudless morning, like the brightness after rain that brings the grass from the earth.” (11 Samuel 23:4). The prophet Jeremiah, amidst his lamentations, affirmed: “Because of the LORD’S great love, we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning.” (Lamentations 3:22) Paul wrote to the young church: “Our inner nature is being renewed each day.” Kathleen Norris quoted Abba Poemen saying about fellow monk, Abba Pior: “Every day he made a new beginning.”
Oswald Chambers concludes his thoughts about “freshness” with this challenge. “Being born of the Spirit means much more than we usually think. It gives us new vision and keeps us absolutely fresh for everything through the never-ending supply of the life of God.”
Oh God, renew us in Thy love to-day,
For our tomorrow we have not a care,
Who blessed our yesterday
Will meet us there.
But our to-day is all athirst for Thee,
Come in the stillness, O Thou heavenly Dew,
Come Thou to us – to me –
Painting: from Egerton Journal 1899