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May 16 -- "Confessions of a Failed Lilac Assassin"

I have a confession to make: I don’t like lilac bushes. In fact, I don’t like them a lot (my mom taught me never to say that I hate something, so I’ll leave it there). Ironically, the parsonage lawn and our neighbors lawn is divided by a row of twelve ... you guessed it ... lilac bushes. Years ago, I proposed to Ann and our neighbors that I would be willing to have someone come with a tractor and pull them all out, and I promised I would plant some other hedge bush in its place. I was outvoted by a three to one margin. That’s when I found out that Ann likes lilacs. So, for almost thirty years I’ve lived with the lilac’s. They’re a lot of work. I’ve had to cut them back many times so they look better and don’t take over the lawn. Again, I find irony here; the one who dislikes the lilac bushes is the one taking care of them. Last year, during one of those trimmings, I came up with a plan to take the lilac’s out two bushes at a time, and hopefully without leaving any evidence behind so they could trace their death’s back to me. We have three dogs and my plan was simple – all year long, take the dog’s droppings and throw it under two bushes. I figured that would kill them. Simple plan and I could feign any knowledge that what I was doing was intended to harm the bushes. I put my plan into action. I set my assassin’s eye on the two end lilac bushes. All last year I threw dog waste under the same lilacs with a menacing smile. Well, spring has come and you know what? If you drive by the parsonage, you will be able to tell exactly which two lilac bushes I had targeted, because they are the biggest and most healthy looking lilacs in the row! My attempt to kill them not only failed miserably, but Ann even pointed out to me a few weeks ago, how good the lilacs are looking. Until this devotion, she wasn’t aware that what she was saying was just salt on the wound. But there is an important lesson here. Those two lilacs grew best when I made life hard for them. And the same can be said for us as Christian people. One theologian said, “A Christian shines brightest in the darkest places.” There is a lot of truth to that. In Africa, Christian missionaries over the last 100 years have made incredible inroads. Many scholars trace this huge growth to one simple reality: whenever an epidemic, plague, famine, or war hit the land, missionaries from other faiths immediately pulled out and returned only when things were safe again. The Christian missionaries though, stayed and walked through the difficult times with the people, many of them dying along the way. But their witness was so powerful that millions of African people have been drawn to Christ and now follow him. “A Christian shines brightest in the darkest places.” I don’t wish this pandemic on anyone, and I want the Covid virus to just go away, but it won’t. Yet, maybe the current plight, present us as Christians, with an opportunity to let the light of Jesus’ hope, presence, protection, and promises, shine and touch those around us who are living in dark places right now. Maybe, this is our time to shine and let the world know that we not only talk the talk, but we are willing to walk along side anyone who needs a friend, a helping hand, and a reminder that they are important, precious and loved. Maybe this is our time to shine brightly in a dark time. “This little light of mine. I’m going to let it shine!” ~ Blessings, Dan

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