©Joy Dunlap https://joydunlap.com
A parade shows up at our place each spring. Like marching musicians playing a variety of woodwind instruments, birds swoop from tree to tree singing their various songs. The cacophony of their varied calls somehow transforms from individual morning melodies into blended harmony.
Lenten roses appear first, wearing their dusty rose and purple attire, as they break through the grayness of overcast skies and cold temperatures. Imagine a group of small children in a dance or cheer troupe on the parade route. The elaborate splendor of the big floats is not theirs, but the joy they bring is in their enthusiasm to be a part of it! And, their participation makes us smile. Those first flowers of the season are like that!
Tulips pop up next like individual performers in a parade. With their multi-colors, yellow, pink, purple, coral, red, and variegated, the tulips draw our eyes to them, reminding us of how each tulip, each person, is uniquely designed and valued by the Creator.
Next to arrive are the prized azaleas, with clusters of flowers and stunning displays that showcase the impact of being together in community. The rich red, hot pink and soft coral azaleas we have were planted years ago by those who first built and occupied the house. Now as current caretakers, we encourage their return and growth each spring. But, it is God’s watering and sunshine that results in their continued blooming.
Much like parade floats colorfully decorated with tissue paper, and those adorned with flowers such as the ones in the Rose Bowl Parade, azaleas command our attention as they appear in the spring parade. Their striking presence brightens the garden and invigorates the places where they bloom.
As we ooh and aah over their beauty, and others in the garden, the awe goes to the Master Gardener.
The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy. Psalm 65:8
And, then there are bounding bunnies and scampering squirrels we enjoy spotting. In the trees, squirrels leap from branch to branch. As the wind blows, the branches sway from side to side as the squirrels hang tight and move with them. Their daring leaps to tree trunks and from tree to tree, along with their frantic scurrying, provide a show. Just as fanciful balloon characters in parades do, squirrels in the trees draw our attention upward.
Remember those tiny cars that zip around and generate glee during parades? Well, the bunnies hopping in and out of foliage also cause delight, and we get a kick out of spotting them.
All that adds up to a parade of delight and rejoicing as renewal and rejuvenation takes place in our yards, parks and hearts in spring.
It’s as if God’s flowers show up and perform one by one, group by group, in honor of the Creator – life’s Grand Marshal!
What about us? Where are we in the parade of rejuvenation and growth after winter?
We’re either part of the parade or putting on a charade.
One of my azalea bushes didn’t bloom this year. It looks lovely, with beautiful green foliage, but is void of blooms. That’s an azalea, no doubt about it, but it isn’t singing in the spring choir, coloring the world with delight, or marching in the parade of blooms.
Let’s ask ourselves these questions to see if we’re in tune for the celebration. Maybe they’ll help reveal if we’re parade-ready, already dancing in the streets, or needing some more practice.
- Do our voices play the tune of praise and reveal a heart of gratitude – like the songbirds?
- Is the unique design God has given us evident in how we serve Him and others in the garden of life – like the tulip?
- Are we united in community with others to impact our boldness – like the azalea?
- Is the joy we bring demonstrating the beauty and abundance of a life in Christ – like a Lenten rose?
- Are we drawing the gaze of others upward to more clearly see the work and wonder of the Lord – like the birds and squirrels?
- Are we blossoming brightly for others to see the hand of the Creator – like the parade of spring blooms around the world?
Then I was constantly at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind. Proverbs 8:30-31
Several ways exist for us to tell if we’re part of the parade joyfully pointing others to the Lord. Most of it comes down to delight and gratitude. Does spending time with God and His Word bring us delight? Is rejoicing in God’s Creation, who He is, and what He’s done for us an active part of our lives – and evident to others? Do we seek to see the good in others, and share the goodness of God?
Every parade has a leader, a master planner. God doesn’t just invite us to the parade. He provides direction and provision on the route. And, when we get weary and thirsty on the way, He sends refreshment.
I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint. Jeremiah 31:25
So, even if we’ve been in a dark and difficult winter season, we can trust God is present with us, and that revitalization is in His hands and in His plan.
Are we singing the new song in our hearts and joyfully dancing as part of the parade in a way that others see God’s design, goodness and love through us?
But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful. Sing to God, sing in praise of his name, extol him who rides on the clouds; rejoice before him—his name is the Lord. Psalm 68:3-4
- If you could only pick bunnies, birds or squirrels to watch in the spring which would you choose?
- What is a memory you have of a parade?
- If you were in a parade today, which would you rather be….in a marching band, cheer squad, or a precision kick team; or riding a horse, tossing goodies from a float, singing a song, holding the balloon animals, driving the little fun cars, or something else?
- In what ways do those around you recognize that you are in God’s parade?
- What are three reasons you are rejoicing in God right now?
David said about him: “‘I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest in hope, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, you will not let your holy one see decay. You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence.’ Acts 2:25-28
Life is Better When It’s Full – Joy-full, Thank-full, Purpose-full and Friend-full! ™
*Scripture references are from New International Version (NIV)