Unexpected Exhibits

This fern and moss collection is just what you anticipate seeing when you visit inside a restored blacksmith shop, right??

Or how about these specimens growing quite happily on a floating log?

I love to discover unexpected signs of life in the unlikeliest of places.

The replica blacksmith shop is located at the Spindletop Museum in Beaumont, Texas. How in the world did the fern and moss spores get inside the blacksmith shop? They’re far from the door, and the window is closed. The buildings have been in that spot since 1975. Have those plants been growing there since then? Did the spores travel in on a donated piece of machinery? It’s mighty mysterious!

The log in the pictures above is floating in a cypress forest on the Neches River in Southeast Texas. There’s no land, or anything to even stand on nearby! How did those plants get there, and how are they thriving?

These oddities intrigue me, and make me wonder if I am an unexpected exhibit of life to those around me. Do I stand out from or blend in with my surroundings? Is there joy and hope or doom and gloom radiating from me? Do I respond to my circumstances just like everyone else, or do I rise above them?

If I am to stand out in the right way, I can’t do it in my own strength, or I end up making a fool of myself! If my focus is on me and how I can look like I’ve got it all together, my source is pride. That’s slippery footing!

Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom (Proverbs 11:2 NLT).

Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall (Proverbs 16:18 NLT).

And besides, when my motivation is pride, it oozes out in the way I carry myself and relate to others. It’s much more obvious to them than I might think, and it stinks to high heaven!

Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it (1 Peter 3:15 NLT).

Pride puts me first, but if I identify as a follower of Christ, He should be first in my heart and in my life. When I put my “need” to be noticed and celebrated aside and instead point people to Christ, His working in and through my life is more easily seen. As I submit to his will, my faith and hope deepen, and the fruit of the Spirit begins to grow:

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23 NLT).

That fruit should be evident to all, especially when it’s unexpected! I can’t manufacture it on my own, it is produced by the Holy Spirit as I submit to God’s will for my life.

Think on this for a moment. How do you come across to others? Are you posing as someone you’re not? Do you wear a mask to hide what’s really underneath? Or have you allowed God to change you so that you emanate joy and peace from within, regardless of your circumstances?

I’m not talking about perfection, but about a pattern of growth. Have you more love, joy and peace overall than you did last year? Those fern spores and plant seeds would not have been visible had they not grown. Let God move in your heart and life, and watch what He does in and through you to bring others to Himself. Be an unexpected exhibit of abundant life!

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