Last week I noticed that there were two pansy-like flowers growing out of different parts of the lawn. They were too oddly positioned to have been planted and I was intrigued about their unexplained appearance. Later that week, I then went to visit a friend 135 miles away, only to find a lone pansy-like flower growing in her garden too. Like any other time, when I come across re-occurring themes, I began to ponder what the Holy Spirit might be trying to teach me.
It made me think about objects and people being in places where they appear not to fit in, where they stick out like a sore thumb. The world seems to promote the need to live a carbon copy life, raising a generation of people who believe that in order to fit in, we always need to be picture-perfect and live ‘photoshopped’ lives ready for social media posts. I believe that as Christians we are called to be different; not just to go along with the norm, but to stand up, and at times stand out, for our beliefs. We can seek to be pioneers; the ones to raise our heads above the parapet and dare to be different. Jesus wasn’t afraid to stand up for what he believed in, or go against the social norms of his time. The New Testament is full of accounts of times that Jesus went against the grain. How amazing if we could look to be more Christ-like in this area. Hebrews 12:1-2 tells us about Jesus being a pioneer.
‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.’
I love the word ‘pioneer’ and when I googled the definition I was really encouraged and fired up by what I found.
– a person who is among the first to explore or settle a new country or area.
synonyms: frontiersman/frontierswoman, explorer, trailblazer, discoverer
– a person who is among the first to research and develop a new area of knowledge or activity.
synonyms: developer, innovator, groundbreaker, trailblazer, pathfinder, front runner, founder, founding father, architect, experimenter, instigator, avant-gardist, creator; spearhead
– develop or be the first to use or apply (a new method, area of knowledge, or activity).
synonyms: develop, introduce, evolve, begin, launch, instigate, initiate, spearhead, institute, establish, found, give birth to, be the father/mother of, originate, set in motion, create, open up, lay the groundwork for, lead the way for, prepare the way for, lay the foundations of; blaze a trail, set the ball rolling, break new ground, make the first move
(See my post ‘A Bun Dance’ for more on my love of words. https://rubyslippergirl.wordpress.com/2016/12/23/a-bun-dance/)
In the bible, it tells us Jesus knew what his disciples would go through, and prayed for them, ‘I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.’ John 17:14-16 NIV
Despite not knowing where the flowers came from, I can still enjoy their beauty, even if, as much research suggests, they might just be weeds. Those flowers weren’t concerned that they were the only ones sprouting up in that area, they continued regardless. Recently, I decided to start a business, and whilst I have been supported, I can tell that there are some people who just don’t understand what I am doing, or show their ‘support’ in unconventional ways. As a reforming people pleaser, this has been hard to take, but God is teaching me to be bold, not to be so concerned with people’s opinions of me and to run with perseverance. This experience has taught me to try my best to build others up, even more so if they are kingdom building in a way which differs from mine. God has gifted us each individually and called us to live out his purpose in unique ways. Does it matter that the way I’m running for God looks different from the way you are? After all, our races are all marked out differently but we have one common goal.
‘So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.’ 1 Corinthians 3:7 NIV
Don’t be afraid to stand out from the crowd.