Monday, August 25, 2008

Giving flowers to the living and zooming out

These were both in my inbox when I arrived at work this morning. The first is one of those little things that many people (including me) just don't stop to think about all that often.
Working with my Aunt Helen in her flower shop during my teenage years, I learned many Christian lessons. One of the most powerful was in her succinct sermon, "Give your flowers to the living."
She went on to explain, "I have spent much of my life arranging beautiful flowers to help people show their love after someone has died. Imagine how much those flowers would have meant to the person while he or she was alive."
As I've grown older, I appreciate the Christ-like message of my aunt's words. Yes, in love, Jesus gave his life for our eternal future after we die; but Jesus also demonstrated God's love continually to the living while on earth. He walked and talked with those around him; he healed, cried, and rejoiced. Jesus gave the gift of love to all those he met as he walked the earth, as well as to all humankind through his death and resurrection.

"Give your flowers to the living". Such a simple sentence that leads to such deep thought.
The second thing in my inbox...

My dad brings his camera along wherever he goes. For him, even a walk around the neighborhood can turn into an opportunity for a photo shoot. As years have gone by and our family has welcomed in-laws, children, and grandchildren, Dad has zoomed out his camera lens more and more so that we all fit in the picture.
Watching Dad has taught me something important. To help us maintain perspective on our circumstances, my wife and I apply the concept of zooming out. When money is tight, a loved one is ill, or a conflict arises, we take a few minutes to shift from our limited viewpoint to God's more long-term outlook. This is a practical way to increase joy and to decrease fear.
Focusing on close-up shots of any problem can be overwhelming. God does not want us to live in fear. Rather, God wants us to experience the abundant life possible for us. When we feel consumed by a situation, we can "zoom out."

"Zoom out". Another very simple phrase, but one that I really have to learn to do. I think I'm way closer to the "Give your flowers to the living" concept than I am the "Zoom out" one. I suspect I'd have a lot fewer sleepless nights and unexplained stomach pains if I can start to live the zoom out philosophy.

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