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Pastor Randy Kanipe tells the story of a Sabbath time away from his church while he was struggling with failure. He happened to be walking by a cow pasture and stopped to gaze over the fence, pondering the ’green pastures’ that he imagined God leading him through - my attention was drawn down to a big, round, flat - dried out cow pie. Lovely sight! But right smack in the middle of that pile of dung was a single, beautiful flower. It was blooming and doing it’s best to grow as God designed, but surrounded by a foul stench, and a horrid mess. The contrast between the beauty of the flower and the stench of its surroundings was powerful. Yet somehow, God gave the flower the ability to bloom where it had been planted. Obviously, the seed was there before the cow made her deposit, and the flower had to push its way up and through that muck. But it eventually did, and it brought forth great beauty. On looking around further - he spotted several more flowers trying to grow in the middle of a pile of cow poop! I thought, you know - there are the precious souls in my church who know all about the stink, who know who’s responsible for the deposits, and can do absolutely nothing to move itself or the poop. Yet it blooms anyway. In spite of their surroundings and in spite of the overwhelming stench surrounding them, they bloom. And then he writes, “Sometimes our lives can seem like that - doing our best to bloom where planted, to grow in spite of the stuff heaped upon us and the stench that overpowers our best efforts to make the world a better smelling place. Yet bloom, we do…. because the power of God is life! It is life giving, it is life sustaining and it is life enhancing. The light will shine and the darkness shall not overcome it. The beacon on a hill, not hidden under a bushel basket!”

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