The beauty of the lotus flower. So bold. There in the midst of the pond water, a pop of color. Unashamed. Holding its own. Uninhibited to shine.
The lotus flower is an ancient symbol of creation and rebirth. It is also a symbol of the sun. Its pure spotless petals close and sink underneath the horizon of muddy pond water at dusk into the murk of the pond where creatures of the night loom. When the sun rises to light up the day, the lotus also crests the pond surface, emerging spotless and breathtakingly beautiful, no trace of the filth it burst forth from.
I’ve been beneath the horizon of pond water. Nothing clear, 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.
Without murky muddy water, the lotus flower does not bloom. It’s roots are deeply rooted in mud. It takes time to establish such roots! Take residence in the underwater? No thanks! 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 really think Jesus can relate. It was certainly “muddy” when he carried that heavy wooden cross uphill, after being beaten, flogged, his body abused beyond earthly repairs. Hard to imagine how anything beautiful could come from that filthy and disgusting display of humanity.
But God…as is His nature, never ceases to amaze. He called Jesus to emerge, out of worse than the mud, muck, grit and grime – He called Him to rise from death. Jesus rose from the darkest place possible to most miraculous. And we invites us to do the same. We are His little lotus flowers emerging beautiful from the mud, only in the light that is the SON of God.
“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)
In this life, we cannot blossom to our magnificent potential without suffering. Jesus says this so many times throughout Scripture. 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.
Often, it is in our times of deepest desperation, under the horizon of muddy, yucky, “get me out of here” waters, where our greatest moments of clarity emerge. Allowing Christ’s light to shine in and through us brings to the surface the most beautifully crafted blossoms one would never imagined started from drinking muck.
Our roots are embedded far beneath the surface of the water, much 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.