Our front porch
We are saying farewell to the last month of summer. Everything is in full bloom. I marvel at the flower baskets on my front porch. In May, I saw them only as small plants with potential. Now they are overflowing with blooms. So full of life. Our back patio is the same scenario, bursting with color. It makes me think of a wall hanging in our guest bathroom that reads, Live Life in Full Bloom. A worthy goal. When we were moving back to the States three years ago, I told a friend that we would be living in Bloomington. She replied, “Well, you can bloom in Bloomington.” I liked the sound of that.
For the first time in my motherhood career, I don’t have a child going back to school. Thankfully, all four of our children have graduated and are employed. So, instead of the usual back to school preparations, I have been given the gift of time to myself. Time to experience the awe and wonder of today. To linger over these last days of summer. To enjoy being in my home. Sitting on my front porch. Meeting with friends there. Going on neighborhood walks. I do some of my best thinking and praying while walking. It helps me discipline myself to pay attention, to be here in the moment, open to the surprises that an unplanned day may hold.
I confess that my husband and I spend some of our evenings watching a Netflix series. This summer we finished a series about the New York City police department. An often-used phrase was I serve at the pleasure (of the police commissioner). The phrase is also used by a subordinate when speaking to a government official such as the mayor or the president. It means that I will do as you wish. I defer to your plans. In one of my recent morning walks, the phrase popped into my mind and I thought, “Well, I serve at the pleasure of the Lord.” At least, that is my desire. To start each day with, Lord God, it is YOU that I serve. To return to that phrase as life unfolds throughout my day.
So, what does it mean to serve at the pleasure? Maybe it starts with being content with who God has designed me to be. Accepting where I am in the transformative process of life. To say and believe: I am enough. This is enough. God is enough. Holding on to the hope that I will continue to bloom and so will those whom I love. Contentment opens us to surrender.
Surrendering comes easier when I can trust who I am serving. I am at a season of life where I can reflect back on many years of walking this journey of faith. I can recall numerous experiences of God’s loving care, protection, and faithfulness. I see how God’s way has always been best for me. And I see God’s mercy and grace when I have chosen to go my own way. I can trust my God. Trust is a key ingredient to surrender.
I’ve always been captivated by the Biblical account of young Mary’s words to the angel Gabriel when she was given God’s plan for her life and for the world: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1: 38). Mary’s heart was profoundly humble. She was not full of herself, not self-protective, not cynical. She did not let fear of the unknown stop her from an action that would lead to love. She was therefore able to completely surrender herself in love, to Love. She would serve at the pleasure. Humility is also a key ingredient to surrender.
So, as we turn the page and enter a new season, may we do so with contentment, trust, and humility. Let’s think about what serving at the pleasure looks like in each of our lives. And encourage one another to do so. This will look different in each life but I believe there will be a common thread among us. I believe that when we serve at the pleasure, we can truly live our life in full bloom.
Our back patio