I know this seems long- and the ones who really need to read this will be the ones who skip it because it looks too long and they're in a hurry to get to where they're going (spiritually).
If you tend to be a "Martha" or one who is given to spiritual gluttony or always seem to be "running" ahead to see what new thing you can learn or do for God- then please read this.
I tend to "run". I tend to want all the spiritual wisdom I can get my hands on. I need to learn that "slow and steady wins the race"- perseverance. Not who gets there first or who is the fastest or strongest or most knowledgable.
God said "consider the lily" . .
Amp. Mt. 6:28 Consider the lilies of the field and learn
thoroughly how they grow; they neither toil or spin.
Yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his magnificence
(excellence, dignity and grace) was not arrayed like one of these.
"they toil not neither do they spin"
I was thrilled. A new truth, a new adventure. I was glad to obey Him.
So, I tried very conscientiously to neither toil nor spin. Feverishly
trying to rest.(Do you get it?) You try desperately to be still and
you are still desperate. It's a contradiction in terms.
So the Lord said, "I didn't call you to be a lily. I called you to
'consider the lily'.
"Oh", I said, "Now I understand".
So I got out my books to study the lily.
Understand the lily, that was my topic.
I will conquer that lily. Yes, Lord!
So I researched, 'lily' in the Word.
I looked at lilies of the Holy Land, made a list of the attributes.
I was making progress.
I would find the secret of the LILY.
Gather my facts and put them in order.
Ah, I can do it by diligent study.
But there was nothing there.
I 'gathered much and had little."
But the Lord said,
"I didn't call you to study the lily.
I called you to consider the lily."
I had exposed my beliefs.
l.Reality (I believed) came from 'mimicking'.
Obedience is: you look at Jesus and do likewise.
Copy. Problem is you cannot copy what you are not.
It's like dressing up in a lion costume and perfecting your roar.
You can look like a lion, you might even sound like a lion but
EVERYBODY knows you ARE NOT a lion and you are totally ridiculous.
Your trying has become foolish pretending.
If you think you can be a lion by trying
you would be considered a pitiable fool.
To think you can be what God demands you to be by copying is
at the very least unrealistic, at the very most insane.
The second belief:
If you can understand it, you've mastered it.
You have it. That is merely another form of pretense.
I can explain the lion. He has this feature and that feature.
Because I can explain the lion, therefore I am a lion.
This is even more foolish that putting on a costume.
God's indwelling character is not gained by mastery
but by surrender out of your own destitution.
I didn't know what the lily was.
I didn't know anything about the lily.
And God shamed me into admitting it.
So, in my heart I set the lily - simply and quietly - before me
to look and to listen.
I surrendered to the lily.
I was not to master her nor to mimic her.
"Tell me your secrets. I wait.. ."
God never gives you explanations.
He gives you life. And in the swirl of life,
He forces the questions that He wishes to answer.
When He breathes life into the scripture it becomes the Word
and it is something alive. You can't master the Word.
God's Word must gain control of you. It says,
"The Word of God tried Joseph".
The Word of God began to 'try' me.
And the lily entered my life.
It wasn't so much that I memorized the scripture about the lily,
though I did that. It was that the Word entered my awareness and
became something alive.
The Lily was there.
All things somehow were under the inspection of the Lily and were
laid against the Lily for contrast.
Whatever the Lily was, the principle it represented had
come into my consciousness. The Lily was there. . .
and the Lily was immense and grand. . .
and the Lily didn't bend.
As the months went by it was as if the most simple,
the most exquisite presence of beauty and peace stood before me,
always there but always wordless.
And always outside of me.
A small peace had been mine, a measure of rest where I had been content.
Now the Lily showed me an absolute peace, a power of actual stillness.
And I thought the Lily would impart to me this peace, this great peace.
But instead, the Lily disturbed me where I'd been content.
She taunted me with a world of calm I could not enter and she gave me no door,
no clue to do so. My small peace became shabby, paltry.
It wasn't enough now.
The Lily had made me see...but in seeing the rest I had less rest, not more.
The presence of the Lily was a mirror in which
I was exposed as awkward and my life, chaotic.
But the Lily gave me no comfort
and the Lily gave me no instruction.
My life began to be thrown into naked contrast
to the quiet calm of the Lily and I grew conscious
of the worry and confusion, the complexity of my life
and of my view of life.
I had been content before the lily.
Life was hard and I had accepted that.
I was at peace before the Lily came.
Now by gazing into the very face of Peace, my non-peace was exposed.
Not to others. This was interior, all private.
I didn't care about the issue as it related to others.
I was exposed before God and to myself.
I wasn't where I could be.
And I couldn't go where I should be.
This was another realm of God - one unknown to me,
and certainly untouched by me.
And my life, with which I had been quite happy, having seen much of God,
was - made not only unacceptable - but unendurable.
Slowly I became acquainted with the Lily's identity.
The Lily stood for tranquility, for rest.
Rest in God. I knew that.
But it was outside of me and though I could begin to grasp it
I couldn't get it to the inside of me...
I had expected that great peace to be imparted to me.
It was not. As a second hope I assumed I would be given
the secret of gaining that peace. I was not.
I grew to dislike the Lily.
"Simple", I cried, "it must be simple!"
Somehow I must possess the peace of the Lily.
She stood before me, but she would not yield to me.
I saw her but I could not reach her or even understand her.
And she told me nothing.
She only made me SEE.
It seemed she watched my flailing, my wringing hands and she just waited. . .
She measured me through every stress and found me wanting.
She judged me with unrelenting condemnation.
She was a thorn to my normalcy.
I could never please her nor reach her.
That terrible steadfast tranquility. It tormented me.
I grew to hate the lily.
Because I had gloated over studying the lily,
friends would ask, "What are you learning about the lily?"
"Don't mention the lily to me!!" I would snap.
I had assumed the Lily came to support me. And I was wrong.
The Lily was no friend to my disquiet, no help for my frenzy.
In time the vision of the lily grew dim.
Several years went by.
Great storms filled my life, as Paul said,
"Doubtings within and pressures without".
Rejection, tormenting words, slander, misunderstanding, evil -
all this stormed against me.
My inner chaos was boiling with guilt, failure, futility,
bitterness, accusation of God...
I would have loved to have just that small measure of peace back.
But even it eluded me.
At last I stopped praying for solutions.
"Just peace, Lord. I only want peace. "
I had long since dismissed the lily.
I was weary of her disturbing presence.
It was hopeless. I couldn't do it. I gave it up.
But in that very place I touched at last, the Lily.
The Lily had, in secret, forced me into. . . the secret.
In giving up, I could be mastered.
In ceasing to try, I could be rescued and
in possessing nothing I could receive.
Over the course of time, I had learned that,
I can't save
I don't know
I don't have
I can't be
I can't do
I can't get
I can't hold on
I can't solve
I can't understand
I can't even believe
Now I knew why the lily had been beyond my reach.
I wanted to add the lily to my treasures of faith.
To my knowledge.
To my gifts of the Spirit.
To my strengths.
But the Lily would have no part of it.
She would be the ONLY principle or none at all.
This is why: the Lily doesn't grow in a crowded place.
She grows in the holy land in remote, barren desserts unseen by most.
She likes the place of poverty. And the Lily rejected me
because I possessed too much.
I had to lose much, to make space
for the simplicity which is the lily.
The Lily neither toils ....
The curse of the garden to Adam was upon his work.
God is the worker, Christ is the worker.
Ps. l27 Except the Lord build the house
I cannot do the work, but I believe I can.
Or at least I believe I should.
I must fail in order to know the lily.
I must accept that failure to be possessed by the peace of the lily.
Many fail but do not accept that failure.
They give up and walk away. "The Christian life doesn't work".
Or they despair and sit in the dust.
The lily doesn't try.
She is and she stays.
If it rains, she is wet.
If the sun shines she is warm.
She is whatever she is.
She is the same wherever she is.
She exists - with the adornment God gives her.
With no pretense, no effort, she just is.
You may think that inane and stupid.
But it's very rare to find someone who is.
Who is honest enough, free enough to simply be.
It's the hardest thing in the world to be so simple.
It is devastating to the ego, death to ambition.
You must be wrecked before you can be and know that it is enough.
It is enough to exist.
Just to be what God has you be today.
The lily of this passage is a small, ordinary flower
that grows in the wilderness areas of the Holy Land.
It's not the waxy slick flower we know in America.
Beautiful, rare...but ordinary.
We always need to be something - something special,
something better than.
Can't we just be ordinary?
Can't we just be what we are? And let His grandeur shine on us?
"We have this treasure in earthen vessels
The lily is a simple earthen vessel. God bestows the splendor.
Also the lily is dependent.
God must give all to sustain the lily.
For the lily cannot sustain herself.
The lily, because she lives by just receiving from God,
is arrayed as only God could array her.
As glorious as Solomon, the most splendid king who ever lived in history.
In her simplicity, in her obscurity (for few will value her)
she is provided for in royal manner.
What I gain for myself may be very good.
What I work for could be great.
But what God gives to me with no contribution from me
is of unparalleled royal splendor.
Far beyond me.
Of which I do not have to be worthy.
A beauty bestowed. A gift given.
Peace I leave with you.
"My peace I give unto you. Not as the world giveth, give I unto you."
Our problem is not that we don't have peace.
It's that we can't receive peace as a simple gift.
I must be made poor enough to be humble..
I must be made humble enough to beg.
"God, give me peace".
I cannot 'find' it and I cannot 'make' it, I cannot 'earn' it.
I can only receive it.
Hebrews 4:9 There remaineth there a rest to the people of God.
l0 For he that is entered into his rest,
he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.
ll Let us labor therefore to enter this rest...
I had many opinions about the meaning of the lily
but in the end I know that the rest comes from faith.
So the lily stands for faith not really rest.
Rest is a result.
Quiet is the evidence -
Faith is the reason.
Faith is the principle.
Faith that God is I AM.
As a beginner in faith you know
God will - if I will
God would - if only I could
God could - if only He would
Faith shouters and wrestlers say,
God will do - as I say
Evangelicals say that faith is:
God's Word says it but I can't tell you why it doesn't happen.
I have been in both camps.
True faith is this:
God has. It is finished.
The work is done.
It is mine only to find out what work has been done and receive it.
It is God's to reduce me to that.
And I will fight His reducing me to faith.
I will protest as unfair that He destroys my faith in man.
I will screech and accuse Him if he so much as touches my faith in myself.
My faith in all else must be cruelly murdered.
The lily had not come to support me.
The lily had come to destroy all that was not 'lily' within me.
The lily brought shame and wreckage, destruction to my securities.
Roy Hession says,
"Revival is not the top blowing off. It is the bottom falling out."
The bottom falls out from under your feet
and all that you thought was solid rock is found to be just deadly quicksand.
And you are not rescued from it.
You sink down and down in it until you are destroyed, utterly destroyed.
The lily belongs to the resurrection side of life.
The lily comes after death.
It's no accident that at Easter there are white lilies.
For the Lord takes pleasure in His people:
He will beautify the humble with salvation and adorn the wretched with victory.
Let the saints be joyful in the glory and beauty (which God confers upon them);
let them sing for joy upon their beds.
Let the high praises of God be in their throats
and a two edged sword in their hands....
I believe that the only valid pain is the pain of dying to self.
Giving up your soul's life, dying to your rights and wishes. This is
excruciating pain. It is the agony of Gethsemane and for that
there is the ministry of angels ascending and descending.
All other pain has little or no validity.
Someone said to me I have suffered so much pain in my life
that no one recognizes. And I said, "I understand that.
I have too.
But in my life it's embarrassing to admit that
the vast majority of my pain was the pain of rebellion or rights,
the pain of sin which gains no sympathy from God."
We must be emptied so that we can receive.
We must be impoverished that we may have wealth.
We must be stripped that we may be clothed.
And we must be reduced before we can be expanded.
But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and
green and tomorrow is tossed into the furnace,
will He not much more surely clothe you, O you of little faith??
Therefore do not worry and be anxious, saying,
What are we going to have to eat" or what are we going to have to drink?
or what are we going to have to wear?
For the Gentiles (heathen) wish for and crave and
diligently seek all these things,
and your heavenly Father knows well that you need them all.
But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness,
(His way of doing and being right) and then all these things taken together
will be given you besides.
So do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow,
for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own.
Sufficient for each day is its own trouble.
To be clothed. We need clothing...but it's much more than garments.
It's the covering over the shame of our sin,
then the provision of the very life of Christ to cover our inept humanity.
"to be clothed with Christ" not trying to be LIKE Him - that is the lily.
"I will not try to be.
I will allow Him to be whatever He wants to be within me.
I will not move, I will let Him rise within.
I will not think.
He will be my mind.
I will not squeeze out love.
He will splash His love through me.
I will not....He will.
I wrote in my Bible in l986 "I can't do it, He can."
I thought that was quite the highest insight.
But in l987 I wrote "I can't do it, He will."
meaning that at some future time, He will.
Again later I wrote, "I can't do it, He does it,"
I meant present, He is
But in l988 I wrote, I can't be it, He already has."
Meaning, it is finished.
It's not yet to be.
It has already been done.
I step into that which is prepared for me and waiting
for my faith and rest to allow the promises to live in, and out, and through me!
Here are some of Watchman NEE's writings,
one who not only knew the lily, but became one.
"God wants to demonstrate to us that we can do nothing at all,
and until that is fully recognized our despair and disillusion will never cease.
We all need to come to the point where we say,
'Lord, I am unable to do anything for Thee,
but I trust Thee to do everything in me.'
...it is Christ who works in me what is well pleasing to God.
The sooner we too give up trying the better,
for if we monopolize the task, there is no room for the Holy Spirit.
But if we say, 'I'll not do it; I'll trust Thee to do it for me',
then we shall find that a Power stronger than ourselves is carrying us through. "
"We have spoken of trying and trusting,
and the difference between the two.
Believe me, it is the difference between heaven and hell.
It is not something just to be talked over as a satisfying thought;
it is stark reality.
'Lord, I cannot do it, therefore I will no longer try to do it.'
This is the point most of us fall short of.
"Lord,I cannot: therefore I will take my hands off;
from now on I trust thee for that'.
We refuse to act; we depend on Him to do so,
and then we enter fully and joyfully into the action He initiates.
It is not passivity; it is a most active life, trusting the Lord like that;
drawing life from Him, taking Him to be our very life,
letting Him live His life in us as we go forth in His name."
Esther became a lily.
She rested in the advice of those over her.
She sought no special adornment, no dripping jewels
when she went into her king for the first time.
No pretense but also no resistance.
And the king loved her.
But more than that she saved her people.
Simplicity has ceased to attract us.
But by its very rarity is its great value.
Joseph became a lily in his unjust prison.
He gave up trying.
He had the keys to the prison.
He could have escaped.
But he rested.
He waited and God conferred beauty and power upon Him.
Adorned Him with splendor.
David learned to rest during the time he hid and ran from the rage of Saul.
In trying to save his skin, he learned about his great Rescuer
and he had peace as a lily.
Daniel watched his family killed and his home burned as a boy.
Stripped of his manhood, carried away, made a slave...he rested.
God adorned Him with wisdom, secrets of dreams, power,
authority, influence and visions. Daniel was a very great lily.
Paul was a lily in the prison of Rome, in chains, in want.
He rejoiced and wrote - without whining, with no effort to change or to escape.
How God adorned Him throughout the ages with his special place as
the very writer of God's Word.
What if he had turned bitter and refused to write his flock?
How blessed we are that he was a lily.
Do you understand what you have to give up to be a lily?
Think about these things...
Pride. . .
the very Self.