Maybe you’ve been around for some time, or maybe you are new here, either way, it might not come as a surprise that my sister, Priscilla Shirer, knows a thing or two about rightly handling God’s Word. If there is anyone I can trust to communicate the truth of God’s Word in a way that personally connects with anyone who listens, it would be her. I hope you are ready. This is going to be good!
Pearl Fryar is a legend in Bishopville, South Carolina. In a small declining town where there aren’t many tourist attractions, Pearl has given this place significance. For years, he worked 12 hours a day at his regular 8–5 job and then came home to tend his garden into the wee hours of the morning. His effort produced 3.5 acres of award-winning plants and flowers that are breathtaking.
When Pearl, an African American man, first moved to Bishopville he tried to buy a house in a neighborhood where he was shunned because of his race. They said he wouldn’t keep up his yard. He was determined to prove them wrong.
Pearl went to one of the city’s nurseries and asked the manager if he could go through a pile of discarded seedlings that he saw behind the facility. He selected foliage that had been discarded and deemed useless and without any training in horticulture, he turned those seedlings into masterpieces—works of artistry that are a marvel to behold.
Pearl has produced a landscape that experts are amazed to view. They say that what he has accomplished would be considered impossible; except for the fact that he has already done it. Pearl’s sanctuary of topiaries draws admirers and even students from around the country. Plants that shouldn’t be thriving in the climate and environment indigenous to Bishopville are doing just that. His spectacular lawn is the talk of the neighborhood and the entire town.
He has taken nothing and has made something beautiful.
Your life is in the hands of a master, you know? Not just the parts you are proud of but even the parts you are not. The parts of your journey that you are most ashamed to admit or most discouraged to remember are the very ones that God wants to gather and cause to flourish under His special care. He’s in the business of making the spectacular out of the spoiled.
Jonah saw it happen. He had been a rebellious soul who had run from God, His voice, His will and His clear instructions. The prophet’s disobedience had cost him greatly. And yet, the merciful Master commanded that the reluctant missionary be given another chance.
Released from the belly of the whale, Jonah ran to Nineveh to tell them the message that God had given him to share. He didn’t arrive in a limo, dressed in a tuxedo and walking down a red carpet rolled out through the city gates. Instead, his entrance would have been a disastrous sight to behold. The mess of the past three days most likely still clung to him. Evidence of the rebellion he’d chosen and the consequences that followed would have been apparent. The stench of gastric fluid and the rotting foods that had shared his three-day stay inside the fish lingered. Loss of hair and discolored skin were further proof that this man had a testimony.
No doubt, he would have wanted to discard that record of his history like any of us would. And yet, God called him to stand in front of the Ninevites vulnerable and exposed.
And Jonah’s mess in the hands of a Master worked a miracle. For when the pagan Ninevites saw the preacher and heard His message: “Then the people of Nineveh believed in God. . . “ (Jonah 3:5).
Something beautiful and spectacular happens when we put our mess in the hands of a master.
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