Man Stripped of Glory

It may seem like a lousy time of the year for this devotional. Near the end of my driveway, off to the side by the fence, is a patch of daylilies. They were quite beautiful last summer, a smaller variety with burgundy and yellow in the petals. They opened up in May, and we enjoyed some blooms into late September. Sometime in October, I cut them down for the winter months.

Now, about five months later, green shoots pop through the earth and old dead growth, harbingers of Spring, which supposedly has just sprung. Before long, the stems will appear, followed by buds, with the best part of the flower waiting to emerge a few weeks later.

So, at this time of year, we’re looking forward to the coming colors of spring and summer as dormant plants and flowers spring back to life in all their glory. Now I come along and have to talk about their fading. Well, I apologize for that, but it’s probably good to remember that the glory of our lilies will soon fade—perhaps we’ll appreciate it more while they’re at their peak.

What prompted this musing is a devotional entry I came across in Spurgeon’s Flowers from a Puritan’s Garden. As noted in previous weeks, Spurgeon picks a flower from Thomas Manton’s garden and expands upon it. On this theme of fading flowers, Manton wrote,

“All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass.” Many times the flower is gone when the stalk remains; so man ofttimes sees all that he has been gathering a long time soon dissipated by the breath of providence, and he, like a withered, rotten stalk, lives scorned and neglected.

Flowers from a Puritan’s Garden, p. 77

Before sharing Spurgeon’s thoughts, how many are feeling this pinch right now? A couple weeks ago, many investors proudly and with great satisfaction admired the meteoric gains in their portfolio. Today, the breath of providence has wiped out whatever gains they had achieved in the last three years. How quickly the glory can fade! But on to Spurgeon.

Alas for such an one! What is a daffodil without its golden crown, or the crocus without its cup of sunshine? Such is man without the object of his life. What is the thorn without its rose, or the tree without its leaves, or the wood without the birds of song? Such is man without the comforts and joys of his being. It is ill to exist when life is dead, to eat and drink when the taste has departed, to move among men when the heart is broken.

Yet there are thousands in this condition: a blight is on them, their flower and glory are withered, and they are as those who go down into the pit. So have we seen a tree smitten by lightning standing still among its fellows, but no longer adding to the verdure of the forest. It has been, and this is all we can say of it, for its continuance is but in semblance. Who has not seen men in a like condition?

Alas! for those who have no hereafter when this present fails them, for they fall indeed, and wither with a vengeance.

Blessed is the man who lives in God, for no such withering shall happen to him. God is his crown and glory, the flower of his true being, and God cannot fail him. He shall be as a tree planted by the rivers of water, and not so much as his leaf shall wither.

Lord, make me to live on thy Word, which abides forever, and then when flesh, like grass, shall fade, I shall find eternal joy in thee.

I hope that you haven’t lost the object of your life in the last few weeks—indeed, that you will never lose your glory, the “flower” of your true being. If you are alive in Christ Jesus, what hope of eternal glory is yours!

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