When a child learns to swim, one of the first things he or she is taught is how to float, how to relax and allow the water to support them. Being at ease in the water and enjoying it (not being afraid of it) is so much easier once you learn that the water can actually hold you and lift you up. Learning to float is really of matter of trust. It is a bit like faith and our trust in the Lord to hold us, carry us, support, and guide us.
Not long ago, I saw a huge patch of water lilies in a pond near the road. The leaves and blossoms resting on the water were for me an apt illustration of resting in the Spirit of the Lord. We can, at times, live such busy lives, much of it in service to God and the Church, that we forget to rest in God’s love and care. We try to do the Lord’s work in our own strength and wisdom. It is important to balance that work with meditation, prayer, play, and relaxation. Sometimes all God asks is for us to simply “be” – be his, be a peace, be still and listen.
Even in their immobile existence water lilies are doing something. The large waxy leaves of a water lily shade the water from the sun. Just by being in the pond, the water lilies cool the water temperature and prevent the growth of algae. There are many times when we inadvertently serve the Lord just by being present – when we show up at worship or a congregational event, when we visit a shut-in and listen to old stories, when we hold someone’s hand in a hospital waiting room. We might not think that we are doing anything, but our presence can make all the difference.
Truth be known, water lilies do not simply float. Their leaves float, yes; but there are actual roots that anchor the plant deep in the mud of still (!) fresh water. The flowers – white, yellow, pink, purple – stand above the water on slender stalks. Deep roots enable the plant to rest in the water, spread its leaves, and offer up beautiful, sweet-smelling blossoms. Deep roots allow us to rest in God’s nourishing care and grow strong and beautiful, living lives that are a fragrant witness to the truth of God’s love and grace.
We all have our flower favorites. Roses are the beauties most often prized. Some of us are partial to daisies, lilacs, tulips, or sunflowers. Hydrangeas are popular this time of year. But I will hold a deep appreciation for water lilies and their living testimony to a faith that trusts, rests, grows, and blossoms. I don’t doubt that this is God’s hope for us all.