The lotus flower is an ancient symbol of creation and rebirth. It is also a symbol of the sun, its pure spotless petals closing and sinking underneath the horizon of muddy pond water at dusk – into the murk of the pond where darkness and creatures of the night loom – only to re-emerge to the water’s surface at dawn. When re-emerging in the light of day, the lotus is again pure, spotless and breathtakingly beautiful.
I think about this Lotus flower, this beauty that grows only out of muddy water. It makes me think of the muddy waters in my life. It makes me think of the muddy waters Jesus walked through in his life on earth, especially when he carried that heavy wooden cross uphill, after being beaten, flogged, his body abused beyond earthly repairs.
How could anything beautiful come from that filth, ugly hatred, disgusting display of humanity?
I often think about my “beneath the horizon of the water” pond moments. Looking around, I see nothing clearly. I cannot breathe. I struggle, looking, waving my arms and kicking my legs, trying to reach the surface. I fear. I imagine the worst. I contemplate giving up. I wrestle the snake that is always ever prepared for his next attack on my self-esteem. I call out to God. I seek his face. Why can’t I see it through the muck? Why is He not pulling me out of the mire? Doesn’t He want to help me? My mind spins, beginning to travel down the path of self-destruction. And I feel alone. In the mud. In the muck.
“For God has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 13:1)
God calls us to emerge, out of the mud, muck, grit and grime.
And just how do we will ourselves to take one more step, one more risk, one more chance?
Just as the lotus flower emerges only in the light of the day, we too only fully bloom in the light that is the SON of God.
Without murky muddy water, the lotus flower does not bloom. It’s roots are deeply rooted in MUD. I read that their stalks and flowers are so strongly attached in this MUD that a human cannot yank them from their position in the earth. The lotus cannot grow and flourish without the slimy, dirty, uninviting water, its roots deeply established in the gunk.
I think about what it takes to establish roots in general. It requires staying in one place for a long time! Take residence in the underwater? My immediate response is, “No thanks!”
And in this Christian life, we cannot blossom to our magnificent potential without suffering. Jesus says this so many times, friends. We are not called into a life of serene waters, clear for the sailing, safe for the drinking. We are called into a life of being poor in spirit, of mourning, meekness, righteousness, mercy, pureness in heart, of peacemaking and persecution. In the world, this looks like pride, power, self-centeredness, deception, weakness. It also looks like pain, depression, illness, confusion and doubt. Name your demon, that’s what the murk, grit, grime and mud of our lives looks like.
In my observation and experience, right hand work most frequently happens while being under the horizon of muddy, yucky, “get me out of here” water.
Ultimately, the purpose of right hand work is to bring glory to God through Christ’s work in us. And by allowing Christ’s light to shine in and through us in this way, bringing us to the surface and out of the darkness, the bloom we bring to God is an offering worth the sacrifice of time spent in the pruning, questioning, hurting, pleading, praying and crying out.
Our roots are embedded far beneath the surface of the water, just like the lotus. The stretching, straining and seeking strengthens our roots and our stalk so we are firmly grounded and established with protection from those who would wish to steal us, yank us from our power source, or worse – destroy us. Our source is God. Our times under the deep dark water draw us into him. We are strengthened by His word, slowly and surely, until it is our time to put forth the marvelous unique bloom He created in each one of us.