God works through many different ways, and I think one of them is the shuffle playback for music. You never know what's going to come next- maybe God picked it! Yesterday I was doing some homework and listening to some songs on shuffle. A song came on by Five Iron Frenzy, one I've listened to a hundred times before, I'm sure. It's called Dandelions. It could have just gone in one ear and out the other like it had so many times before, but something perked my ears up just then, and I heard something I hadn't heard before.
This isn't the first time this has happened to me- Five Iron Frenzy wrote a lot of deep lyrics for a band with an average fan age of thirteen. In fact, this blog is named for a deep Five Iron song. All these words were in the songs when all of us punk kids were listening to them a decade ago, but they didn't click then. If I keep listening to Five Iron as I get older and older, I wonder if I'll just keep discovering stuff in their songs.
Back to Dandelions- here is the audio from Youtube, and the lyrics below. See if you pick up on what I did.
In a field of yellow flowers,
underneath the sun,
bluest eyes that spark with lightning,
boy with shoes undone.
He is young, so full of hope,
reveling in tiny dreams,
filling up, his arms with flowers,
right for giving any queen.
Running to her beaming bright,
while cradling his prize.
A flickering of yellow light,
within his mother's eyes.
She holds them to her heart,
keeping them where they'll be safe,
clasped within her very marrow,
dandelions in a vase.
She sees love, where anyone else would see weeds.
all hope is found.
Here is everything he needs.
Fathomless your endless mercy,
weight I could not lift.
Where do I fit in this puzzle,
what good are these gifts?
Not a martyr, or a saint,
scarcely can I struggle through.
All that I have ever wanted,
was to give my best to you.
Lord, search my heart,
create in me something clean.
you see flowers in these weeds.
Gently lifting hands to heaven,
softened by the sweetest hush,
a Father sings over his children,
loving them so very much.
More than words could warrant,
deeper than the darkest blue,
more than sacrifice could merit,
Lord, I give my heart to you
There's not some hidden, veiling double meaning here. I just didn't get it until now- probably because I was hearing but not listening. The point that I got from it is that we are very much the little boy with shoes untied, bringing dandelions to his mother. His mother loves those dandelions, she loves them so much- why? Not because dandelions are the most beautiful flower, or that by their own merit they have any value. Really, dandelions are weeds. The dandelions are special to her because they are her young son's expression of love- his very best, with nothing held back. The little boy gave her the dandelions with a pure heart as a gift of love.
How are we like that little boy? In plenty of ways. We are all, in some way, incompetent and backwards- with our shoes untied, you might say. Like the little boy, we are all capable of bringing a gift of love with a pure heart which will be just the very thing that the recipient wants. Finally, just like there was someone for the little boy to give his gift to, there is someone to whom we should give our gift of love- God. Now, God has a lot in common with this proverbial mother as well. She saw love in those weeds, because that's what they were: a gift of love. God also judges your gift not by some rubric or abstract value, but by the heart that presents it. If you offer something to God out of your love for him, it will be greatly pleasing to him, because that's exactly what he wants. What if the little boy had brought his mother a diamond ring, but did it out of obligation and with a sour heart? She wouldn't love that, even though the gift itself was amazing. In the same way, it doesn't matter if all you can give with your life is things that seem small and inconsequential- God is looking for your heart of love. Don't think God will be impressed by your great achievements in your life, either, if you're doing them for your own reasons and not to glorify him. Doesn't this sound an awful lot like a story you might have heard?
And he [Jesus] sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, "Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on."
A lot of the time, when this passage is preached on, the conclusion is "give until it hurts". It'd be easy to conclude that, given the ending- but I don't think that's the message here. I think the message is the same one that we can take from Dandelions. The fact is that God doesn't care how much you give, how much you achieve, what kind of greatness you have to offer him as this world measures it. All that will pass away. God cares about your heart. Nothing pleases God more in an offering than a heart that is giving out of its abundance of love for him. Now don't run away and think "God doesn't care how much I give, so I'm going to give very little, but do it cheerfully". Replace 'give' with whatever you want- 'try', 'accomplish', 'care'. What does that say about your heart? What if the little boy was just wanting to give his mother the easiest flowers to find?
No, what you do isn't what matters- but it is the evidence of the thing that does matter. If your heart is completely focused on God, then you're going to give your whole life to him. That's pleasing to God not because it's your all, but because it was your love for him that compelled you to give it.
Take two things from this. One is this- are you living your life as a pure gift to God? Are you sliding by with however much effort/diligence/contribution everyone else is, or, are you so motivated by your love for God that you want to give him your very best? Look at things the way God sees them.
On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
The second thing is this- don't judge your life on the same scale that the world does. The world's scale says that those dandelions were crap, a dozen roses is par. That's just not true. If all you have to give to God doesn't look like much on that scale, who cares? It doesn't matter in the least. You are a child of God, things are different. What matters is the heart that is giving it. Is it with a pure heart of love for God? That's what God wants. Don't aspire to greatness or accomplishment as measured by any earthly scale. Aspire to love God first and best, for that is far better.
He opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.