“All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.” 1 Peter 1:24-25
It has been a little over a year and half since I was called to serve the Presbyterian Church here in Wilmington. My husband and I have found a true home here and we have been made to feel not just welcome, but wanted as well.
For a couple of Hawkeyes living amid the Buckeyes, we could not ask to feel much more like “family” than we do in our adopted community.
However, as in all things in this life, there is one exception to the warmth and love we feel from our neighbors. The deer have made my life here very difficult in that they have taken from me one of God’s gifts that I treasure most … flowers.
Apart from faith, family and friends, flowers have been my life for as long as I can remember. I love to grow them, write about them, preach about them, smell them and just generally be around them.
Last summer, my first in Wilmington, I planted all of my Midwest favorites that I could not grow in the 13 years we lived in Florida before we moved here. Very soon I found out that, while I thought I was planting a dream garden of fond memories, what I had actually planted was a delicious smorgasbord of tasty morsels for the deer that live in our neighborhood. By mid-July, I had nothing to show for all my efforts but bare stems and deep hoof prints all across my flower beds.
Never one to give up without a fight, I vowed this year would be different. I studied up on plants deer don’t like to eat. I asked the advice of seasoned local gardeners and planted what they suggested. I tried every home remedy and commercial product available to deter deer munching.
Things were a little better by early June and so I boldly gave into my desire to see a nice patch of impatiens amid the shade of our backyard. Impatiens are candy to deer, so I bought super-strength deer repellent guaranteed to stop not only deer, but moose and full-grown elk as well.
For several days all was well and resplendent in shades of red and coral blossoms. Then one morning as I walked my dog in the early morning, I gasped in horror at a dead circle of withered grass surrounding fallen, chewed flowers that had been a midnight snack for my deer neighbors. I had sprayed so much deer repellent that I had killed the grass around the flowers and the deer evidently liked the tasty sauce I had put on their salad of impatiens.
In my time of trial and torment, words of Scripture came to mind, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever. (1 Peter 1:24-25)”
Well, God, I thought, I certainly have the withered grass and the fallen flowers. Where then in all of this is the Word of the Lord, I questioned.
No sooner had I thought that than my eyes were drawn upward to the sky and soaring high above was a magnificent eagle. The eagle circled back, descending lower and lower as he neared the place where I was standing, until I was standing in the very shadow of its wings. Its majesty and power were evident as he came to bear witness to Lord’s protection of me in a way that was truly a sight to behold.
It is often said that the birds are God’s messengers and rarely have I felt so comforted and secure as I did by the message that the eagle delivered to me that morning. Rather than looking down at the dead grass and half eaten flowers that represented my best efforts and planning, the Almighty, by sending a magnificent eagle messenger, made me look up to the heavens, to a world He has set in motion.
His plans, though not known to us, are perfect plans. His ways are holy ways and nothing on earth can prevail against them. Though I may stand today amid the withered, dead grass strewn with faded flowers, I know by God’s Word that one day I shall stand with Him in the Paradise of God.
How do I know this?
God sent me an eagle to tell me so.
Debbie Linville is Pastor of Presbyterian Church of Wilmington.