There’s something about moving abroad that makes you appreciate aspects of your home country that you took for granted before (such as very green grass), didn’t realise were unique (short-cut grass, apparently) or never considered much (only a small percentage of land in Scotland is suitable for growing crops).
It has become a bit of a tradition for my parents and I to go to a garden café when I’m visiting them in Scotland. Usually, it’s a final outing before I return to Austria. To keep up the reputation of tended lawns and increase the area of cultivated Scottish land, this garden café is a place where green fingers get vegetables, fruit and flowers to flourish. Meanwhile, people like me, who struggle to keep a houseplant alive, can have a cuppa surrounded by life and colour.
Last time we went together with my fiancé and some friends. After a coffee, we wandered past blooms in bordered flowerbeds, ambled through neat grounds and glanced inside the greenhouses.
During our leisurely stroll, we came across a pigpen.
No more finely kept grass; it ended where the enclosure began. Beyond the fence, the inhabitants had trampled the turf into deep, moist mud. I commented on the squelchy state of their pen.
To my surprise—and slight dismay—my father reached over the fence and started to scratch one of the pigs behind its ears (“Dad, you know you’ll need to wash your hands afterwards!”). He often pets a passing dog, but extending his greeting to a farm pig was new.
We watched. The pig appeared to like it. Later, I imagined the pig thinking: “Hello, what’s this? A tickle? Oh! No one has scratched me behind the ears since I was a little piglet!” In fact, the pig leaned into the tickle.
My father continued to scratch the animal’s tough skin covered in long coarse hair. We looked on, fascinated. It really seemed to relish the attention. Did I detect a smile?!
Suddenly, as if its knees had gone weak and couldn’t take its weight anymore, the pig keeled to one side, dropped to the ground and lay in the mud. I think it just couldn’t contain the emotion!
The other pig went over and sniffed at it as if to say: “Hey sister, what happened to you?” We laughed at the unexpected sight and scenario.
My fiancé wondered aloud if that wasn’t a picture of how Jesus comes to us. Jesus is not worried by the mud we are standing in. He’s not afraid to reach out. Once we encounter Jesus and are met with His love, His forgiveness and His grace, we are overwhelmed too. It changes us, causing others to question: “Hey, what happened to you?”
I want to grasp more and more how much God loves me and let His love transform my life in new ways.
A love that is everlasting and not dependent on having a “good day.”
A love that casts out fear.
A love that enables me to love others like Jesus.
I’ve often read the verse at the end of Ephesians as a stand-alone promise: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” – Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV). Recently though, I noticed these words come directly after a prayer for believers in verses 14 – 19 to have the power to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.
It struck me — we can pray and ask God to help us understand His love for us. He is able to answer this prayer beyond our imagination; even during a walk in pretty garden grounds while observing a pig that almost passed out!
Fathoming God’s love isn’t something we should only remember from back when we were a little piglet, as it were. We need a fresh and renewed understanding, again and again, throughout our lives.
Kneel. Pray. He is able to do immeasurably more than we all ask…
Inger loves to share what God is doing and give people a voice as she writes for OM’s media team, based in Austria. She likes to go for walks—especially by the shore—make gifts and relax with a good brew of tea.