“In every walk of nature, one receives more than he seeks.” (1)
When you walk the same path every day, you can forget to look at the common treasures that the Lord provides. The myriad of plants that you pass or barely notice make up a scenic understory around you. Sometimes I will sit and study this understory just to see what my eye will reveal. It may be simply the multiple shades of green, each unique to a particular plant or tree. Other times I will look for the varying shapes of the plants or leaves.
Unlike the wildflowers that attract our eye, these plants don’t present a striking color to draw our eye to them. Some of them, with flowers that are so tiny as to be imperceptible, lend a subtle color to the landscape when seen en masse across a field. This is true of sea lavender, which lends a soft blush to the green grasses of our salt marshes. It’s also true of Brazilian vervain, which we see along streambeds here. But if you take the time to inventory your surroundings, the variety of plants will amaze you. This time of year, the grasses are especially lovely as they set seed.
Often when I have reached the summit of a mountain, I look down into the valleys to see how many kinds of trees and leaves I can identify. Our Lord could have made every leaf the same shape and shade of green. But He didn’t. Each tree has a distinctive leaf shape, color and bark. Some, like the oaks, are harder to learn because their differences are more subtle.
Most people who are walking the greenway are trying to get their exercise. Only a few are stopping to appreciate the beauty or even take a photo. Are we so pressed for time that we walk blandly by the bounty that the Lord gives us every day? Are we so focused on listening through our earbuds that we miss the birdsong and the wind on our faces? Yes. I am afraid that is the reality. Yet in the 30-60 minutes spent “exercising” you are passing up a smorgasbord of gifts from the Lord, both common and uncommon.
The uncommon gifts are easy to write about. Meadows of wildflowers sprinkled with color, a passionflower vine tumbling over a tree branch, a pair of river otters playing in the creek. These draw our attention. But what about the common wildflowers and weeds that populate our walks? Do we relegate them to second place or not notice at all?
These musings reminded me of the scripture where Isaiah described Jesus as looking more like we do, common. “He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.” (2) Hmm. What do you think of that? I am not saying that Jesus was ugly or not good looking. I suspect even if he looked very much like his fellow disciples, the power of the Spirit that lived within Him would be readily evident, especially through His eyes. But, it made me want to contemplate how I judge other people by their appearance. Let’s not forget to see people with the Lord’s eyes.
What is truly winsome is the Spirit of the Lord who dwells within believers. Hebrews says, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.” (3) If our number one desire is to be like Jesus, we, too, can reflect the beauty of His character and Spirit and endeavor to live like Christ, witnesses of His grace. We may not glow with the radiance of His glory, but I have met enough people who radiate Jesus to see the difference. Even if they come in common packages without the beauty or majesty to appeal to our secular natures. They have a treasure more worthy of discovering. The Savior Himself.
So as you go about your day, look for Jesus, especially in the people who aren’t dressed to the nines or who aren’t appealing to the eye. They may reflect more of the Savior than you realize at first glance. Give them a second chance and you may meet the Savior dressed in common clothes, working a common job, doing the uncommon work of Jesus.
“All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. ‘Isn’t this Joseph’s son?’ they asked.”
Luke 4:22 NIV
- John Muir
- Isaiah 53:2 NIV
- Hebrews 1:3 NIV