One of my favorite hymns (I have so many) is “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Him.” This week, as I have been walking through the many azalea gardens on St. Simons, I keep singing the second line, “Hearts unfold like flowers before thee, opening to the sun above.” [I have about five versions of the hymn on my iphone but if you want to hear (and see it) like it should be sung, check out this video.]
The azaleas are out in full bloom and in wonderful abundance. They have been budding over the last two weeks and the warm weather this week (78 degrees yesterday) brought them out in all their glory. I love azaleas because they come in such a variety. Double blooms, big, little, white, red, pink, white and pink, deep red. And they bloom profusely, sharing their glory with everyone. They don’t have much of a fragrance unless you are walking through the Wesley Azalea garden. There you can catch a faint fragrance because there are so many of them blooming at once.
As I admire the beautiful azaleas, I think about how God cares for us. Jesus says, in Matthew 6:28-30, “See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?”
Thinking about God’s care for us, comparing myself to an azalea blossom, makes my heart unfold like a flower. There are times my heart is closed up. Sometimes I do it to protect myself so I won’t get hurt. Sometimes I do it out of indifference to a hurting world or hurting people. But a heart closed up for too long withers and dies. As I admire the beautiful azaleas, and think about God’s care for them and me, my heart unfolds. God’s sunshine coaxes my closed and hurting heart open and I fall in love with God all over again. How can I not? He loves us so lavishly!
Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flow’rs before Thee, op’ning to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness; Drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness, Fill us with the light of day!