or daisies – your pick. I only say that because of the picture.
You know your brain just went where mine did the first time I saw this picture. You just had a flashback to fifth grade science when you put the white carnation in the bottle of colored water to study how water flows in plants. And the rest of you, who like me are staring down summer break, just said, “I totally have to do that with my kids this summer!” It’s ok to be a little crazy like me. I won’t tell.
But this is a faith blog so what do colored carnations and fifth grade science have to do with faith?
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things and the God of peace will be with you.
This is the easy part. What ever I take in affects what I look like and how I act. Duh, Mom! Garbage in; garbage out. We know that lesson. But have we ever considered what we take in? Where it comes from? What it looks like? A carnation in a bottle of water doesn’t have a choice. It’s in the blue water so it’s going to turn blue. The end. But what about us?
Sure we can control what we watch on TV and what kind of books and magazines we read. We can control what websites we click to and what social activities we engage in. But what about the “other” stuff? The stuff that looks innocent enough. A coffee break with a friend that spirals into gossip. A minor understanding that leads to anger and resentment. A picture of someone’s vacation that leads to “how could they afford that” judgement.
There’s nothing harmful about a Best Buy ad, right? But what if leafing through the Best Buy ad you are suddenly overwhelmed with envy of the friend who has that flat screen HD 60 inch TV? Or the friend who has the latest and greatest Bluetooth equipped just released iWhatever? Or the top of the line lap top that gets up in the morning and makes your coffee for you? Ok, I’m jealous of that guy! But you get my point. Even the innocent can cause a problem.
One of my favorite and least favorite words in the English language is “dwell.” My name isn’t Miriam Webster but here’s what it means to me. “To move in and live; to sink down and be comfortable; to wrap oneself up in.” So when Paul asks the Philippians to “dwell” on these kinds of thoughts, he is asking them to make it home. Imagine yourself as one of our carnations for a minute. If you were to fill your life vase with the kind of thoughts Paul suggests, and plant yourself there, imagine what you would look like; how you would feel; what would life be?
Now imagine your life vase filled with envy, anger, resentment, failure, fear, impurity, or gossip. What might the carnation that dwells in that vase look like? There is a member of my family (Top Kid) who tends to dwell on failures and wrongs. I like to call her the family scorekeeper. If one person gets computer time and she doesn’t, fail point for her. If one person does something wrong and doesn’t get busted but she does, fail point. If something goes wrong, she will let it turn her whole day upside down and dwell in misery from that moment on. She will make it a point to share the negative before the positive.
I don’t like her very much on those days. She’s just no fun to be around. But I think it’s illegal to sell her to the circus so I deal. But what about you? Do you dwell in the negatives of the everyday? Of your past? I am a realist. I know that you can’t get rid of all that stuff in your past. It’s in there. But I think it can be overcome and changed. What if I took a carnation that was in a red jar and moved it to a blue?
Romans 12: 1&2
Therefore I urge you brethren by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Ok, so there is junk in my past. My carnation brain is red. But let me start today to dwell on the things of God that are holy and pleasing. Let me leave that red jar behind and plant myself deep in His blue jar of love and purity. I believe that I will be changed into something completely new.