Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Yellow (11/12/09)
TITLE: Yellow Jasmine
By Justin Atkin
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Being the true South Carolinian that I am, I could’t wait to plant yellow jasmine outside the house that my wife and I had purchased a while back. It is such a symbolic flower and no one loves symbolism like I do. It is the truest southern symbol that the dread of winter is gone and a new day has come. A new start that is full of life. It speaks of a new season, with God’s handiwork written all over it. And this particular day, it marks a new season in my own life.
In as few words as possible, let me share with you a chapter of my life story. All of my life I have attended church services. I attended a minimum of three times a week, often more. I often tell folks, even though I am only twenty six years old, that I have been to church more than Billy Graham! Going to church has always been a huge part of my life. I have held most all positions in the church. I have been youth pastor, deacon, Sunday school teacher, church league basketball coach- you name it and I have done it. It wasn’t even uncommon to see me standing behind the pulpit preaching God’s Word Any other Sunday morning, I would be driving a big blue van around our small town’s “mill hill”, picking up kids for Sunday school, but not today. Instead, I walk through my garden and sit alone in an old straight back wooden chair that I purchased from a lady at a yard sale a few months back.
Winter had taken its toll on me this past year and the yellow jasmine had bloomed not a minute too soon. Growing up in the Bible belt, let me rephrase that, the belt buckle of the Bible Belt, I knew a lot about this thing called Christianity. I had been taught to pray and to fear God. It had been drilled into me that you honor your father and mother. I could tell you anything you wanted to know about Adam, Eve, Peter, Paul, and both Noahs (the male and the female one you probably have never heard of.) Somewhere along the way I had heard that we were to love one another and treat everyone the same way we would like to be treated. You know what? I tried that last one out and that’s why I am here on this particular Sunday Morning.
See, I have an unusual love for people in my heart. I love all people. That includes male or female, rich or poor, homosexual or heterosexual, old or young, Christian or Muslim, American or Afghan, and even black or white. I never knew that this way of thinking would be so hard for people in my church to understand. I could see “non Christians” not grasping the thought that no one should be hated for the color of their skin, their social class, or the clothes they wear, but the congregation of my local church surely understands; right? I mean, isn’t that where I learned to love one another?
As I sit here in my garden alone, I think of the awful things that were said to me by the leaders of the church, just because I brought a poor kid with head lice to Sunday school. I think of the murmurings that had become commonplace in the pews simply because I had invited a black lady and her son to church. I think of the teenagers that one of the most respected elders of the church had called trash and demanded me not to bring them back to his church. I think of all sorts of things. However, as I look at that tiny yellow flower, I can’t help but think of the new season ahead of me. I hope that the sweet smell of the yellow jasmine is God’s way of letting me know that whatever had died in me the past few months will come to life again!
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