September 5, 2019
As I read through Psalm 139 I am always left in awe of God’s creation. He created each of us with such precision. He designed each of us for the paths He has laid before us. He knit us together with purpose. I am also amazed by the many other creations that God placed on earth. How each living thing is designed with thought and care, the web of life so carefully planned out that if one piece is missing the web can weaken. As I visited Camp Wesley Woods recently I kept coming upon small twigs that were covered in a pale green tangled beard of lichen. I found this lichen mesmerizing in its design. The small branches were fine and wispy, with a central point attaching itself to the twig. After Googling to learn more about this lichen I found that these type of fruticose (nothing to do with fruit but meaning shrubby) lichen doesn’t live on its own. It doesn’t just attach itself to the dying twig and exist, it actually lives with another organism, an algae. The algae produces its food through photosynthesis and shares with the lichen while the lichen gives the algae protection by growing around the algae. They live in a symbiotic relationship both helping the other to survive and grow; both are reliant on one another to live.
by Heather Hayes
Children's Ministry Director & CLM of Concord UMC Knox (Knoxville, TN)
Tennessee Valley District
This algae/lichen symbiotic relationship is much like our own spiritual journey with God, we must develop it into a symbiotic relationship and when we do we reap its benefits and God’s kingdom can spread. We cannot exist in a one-sided or parasitic association where we take all that is given to us by God with no return to Him. Draining away and depleting all that is good will lessen us and others. God has designed us to exist in a relationship with each other and with Him that can help to feed ourselves and others spiritually and physically. We are given many gifts so that we can share the fruits of our lives with others and ultimately through those actions we are helping to spread God’s love. We can read of one man’s relationship with Christ and Paul and how he gave of himself to serve and how his relationship is used to illustrate to others how to live.
Philippians 2:25-30 (NIV) 25 But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. 26 For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. 28 Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. 29 So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him, 30 because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me.
This is the only mention of this man in the New Testament but we can read that he gave what he could to help others and received healing and strength from God. He served others to help build the Kingdom and in return received care and healing from others and God. What are we doing to help develop our relationship with Christ to make it symbiotic? Are we taking more than we are giving? Where can we give more? Where do we see Kingdom building relationships?
Dear Father, we thank you for the wonders of your creation; for the opportunity to exist in such a carefully designed world where each piece matters. We ask that you guide us and our hearts to follow you. To return the gifts that you give each of us to others so your love may continue to shine and grow. We ask for forgiveness when we forget and hoard those things for ourselves. Thank you for your gifts and may we always strive to return them back to you. Amen