September 03, 2017


Devotion for the Week...

As I mentioned last week, I love knowing the names of the wildflowers I see and to that end I just bought another book about Newfoundland's wildflowers and ferns. The book includes a short section that describes the various habitats that exist on the island (limestone barrens, wetlands, coastline, etc), all of which have different challenges and advantages for plants. For example, plants that live along the coastline have to deal with salt spray, which would be deadly to most plants because the salt would make them dry out.

Of course, there are plants growing along the coastline, including some plants that grow right on the beaches. Those plants are able to survive in that salty environment because they have a feature that protects them from drying out; for example, they may have a waxy coating that protects the leaves. Without that coating on the leaves the plant would struggle to survive.

Thinking about how different plants adapt to different growing conditions made me think of my favourite flower when we lived in Igloolik, which is a small island in Nunavut. The arctic has a really short summer and plants have to be hardy to survive. Dwarf fireweed is a gorgeous purple-pink flower that grows like a carpet all over the place. It lines the sides of the runways, making for a beautiful display when you come in for a landing.

The summer after we moved to Newfoundland, we were driving one day and I noticed the roadside was covered in tall purple flowers. When we stopped I was delighted to see it was a tall version of the dwarf fireweed I had loved so much in Igloolik. It makes me smile when I see it every summer, both because it's a beautiful flower and because it reminds me of our time in Igloolik.

The fireweed that grows in the arctic is a dwarf version of the fireweed that grows here because the summer doesn't give plants time to grow that tall in the north. Dwarf fireweed has adapted to quickly reach its full height and produce flowers so it can produce seeds before the short summer is over. It's the only way the plant can thrive in a less-than-ideal environment.

Spiritually speaking, we are also living in an environment that is less than ideal. I don't mean the world around us (though it certainly has less than ideal elements). I'm actually thinking of our human nature. There are a few elements of our human nature that make it less than ideal for us to survive and thrive as Christians.

First of all, our human nature is selfish. It wants to have all of our needs and wants met, regardless of how meeting them may negatively impact us or others. Just think about how a toddler reacts when told 'no' and you get a picture of our human nature in action. Sure, our parents mostly trained that out of us (hopefully), but there's no denying that basic selfishness stays in some form or another.

Second, our human nature is focused on 'now' and has trouble making decisions based on the future. This plays out in a lot of ways, from not being able to control eating because we want that dessert now, even though we also want the smaller waistline later, to not being able to control our spending because we want to buy something now, even though we also want to save for the proverbial rainy day.

Put those two elements together and we have a recipe for disaster, everything from marital affairs to stealing from employers to gossip can be traced back to these elements of our human nature. And Christians aren't immune to these problems. Paul wrote, " I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do" (Romans 7:15). That sinful human nature has a tight grip on us and it can be hard to live contrary to it.

Thankfully, we have an adaptation that God has given us as Christians to help us survive and thrive even though we are living with this human nature. That adaptation is the Holy Spirit living inside of each of us.

Jesus told us, "the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." (John 14:26). God knew what we would need to survive. He knew that we would need constant reminding to live His way, not the way that would come naturally to us.

Knowing us, knowing our human nature and what we would need to live as Christians thriving despite our human nature, He gave us the Holy Spirit, living within us to speak up when we are tempted to say or do something we shouldn't. The Holy Spirit is the One who reminds us that there is a better way to live. The Holy Spirit is also the One who reminds us of God's grace when we make mistakes and need His forgiveness.
Weekly devotions on Christian living |
Living with our sinful nature is certainly less than ideal, but with the Holy Spirit we can definitely survive and thrive as God intends.


  1. What a timely reminder. Thank you.

  2. Thank you. This is indeed a great reminder of my need to "walk in the Spirit"...


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