I was recently walking through the Painted Desert badlands of Arizona. All around there was nothing but sand, hills, washed out clay and an occasional sage bush.
In the midst of this desert region there were some beautiful spots where the clay hills, though dry and rough like an elephant’s skin, seemed beautifully painted and elaborately designed. Yet even these areas were still dry and barren of life or vegetation.
Sometimes that is how our lives and the situations around us can appear. In the midst of challenges, disasters, even desert times, we can clearly see the beautiful work of our Lord Jesus. God’s creative hand of beauty shines forth in the midst of the decay and death that is around us. For this we should be thankful.
Yet there are other times when we don’t seem to see any life or goodness in what is around us. Along one desert path, I looked down beside the walkway to see what was apparently drought and death.
While looking down I felt an urge to look closer at what was before me. There in the midst of dried twigs, stones and clay was a simple, yet small, yellow flower. Had I only looked from a distance I would have missed the beauty that was present. Something speaking of life and hope was there in the midst of this harsh environment.
In Philippines 4:6 we are exhorted not to be anxious for anything. These might be easy words to say, but it seems like there can be many things surrounding us that can bring anxiety to our lives. It would be easy to only see the desert, the harshness of life and the problems which are around us.
The Apostle Paul goes on to say in Philippians 4:7 that “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” This command of Paul implies that there may be times when the good, the pure, the lovely and the noble things are not easy to see. Excellent or praiseworthy items might not loom up in front of us, though if look hard enough, we will see what is worthy of focusing our thoughts and heart on. If the situations around us are not encouraging or worthy of praise, we can always choose to focus upon the mercy, forgiveness and comfort of our Lord.
When we focus upon the right things, then we are told that ”the God of peace” will be with us. (Philippians 4:9) Today take some time to think about that which is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and worthy of praise.