Updated: Feb 5, 2018
I took this picture a while ago in Auckland, during of one of our family evening walks around Panmure Basin. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panmure_Basin) The tide was low; barely any water in this gigantic “bowl”. Against the background of grey sludge, something strikingly beautiful caught my eye. On closer inspection, I saw this beautiful water-lily of some sorts.
Who would have thought it? (Or in the words of an old friend of mine: “Who’d have thunk it?”) How was it possible for such beauty to be found growing in the midst of such “ugliness”? Thick, slimy, grey sludge was certainly no “home” to such picturesque prettiness! But here it was, nonetheless.
My mind goes back to the lilies that grow wildly in my birthplace: Cape Town, South Africa. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zantedeschia_aethiopica) These stunning flowers with their pure snow-white petals, dazzling yellow stamen, and deep green stems, are truly breathtaking to behold. But the interesting fact is this: the natural habitats for these wonders of God’s creation, are not the rich greenhouses of posh suburbia; neither are they the natural product of the exquisite botanical gardens that are found throughout the beautiful Mother City. Instead, the natural habitat – the “home”environment; the environment to which this beautiful flower belongs, are the wide open fields, the marshy areas of the Cape Flats, and the seemingly barren slopes of Table Mountain.
Driving through some of the poorest areas, overpopulated and under-serviced – I would marvel at how, amidst the tin shacks – the dwellers of which having to struggle daily to find enough money to buy a loaf of bread- were some of the most awe-inspiring lilies the eye could behold. Against a backdrop of such great poverty, stood a solitary silhouette of such beauty the value of which could never truly be measured by human standards. Against the canvas of such “ugliness”, such hopelessness and helplessness, shone forth a masterpiece second to none.
Water lily in the midst of sludge? Wild lily in the midst of poverty? What lesson can possibly be derived from this? I would like to suggest the following: Out of the deepest, darkest depth of despair, desolation and desperation of your situation, something beautiful can come forth! In the midst of great hopelessness, there is always hope!
Dear Reader, you may have gone through the ugliest of life’s experiences. The most bitter and painful encounters may have been along your life’s journey to-date. You can identify with the “valley of the shadow of death” of which Kind David writes in Psalm 23:4 (the Bible) – you have been there! You have drunk from the bitter waters of its streams. You have tasted of the poison of its vegetation. Nobody can teach you anything about suffering, setbacks or scathing – you have known this first-hand. You have the scars of yesterday as well as the wounds of today to prove it.
Some talk of the light at the end of the tunnel. This does not correspond with the darkness you may be facing right now. Others speak of silver lining in the dark cloud. Yet the only thing that resembles a silver lining in the storm cloud currently overshadowing you, seems to be the next lightning bolt about to inflict yet another excruciating strike!
Friend, as hard as it may seem to believe, somewhere in the greyness of your experience; in the midst of the ever-increasing burdens bogging you down, there’s a solitary “lily” of hope! There’s something to hold onto. There’s the voice of a loving God whispering “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you! Don’t be frightened, for I am your God! I strengthen you- yes, I help you- yes, I uphold you with my saving right hand!” (Isaiah 41:10).
God bless you, Dear Reader!