I asked my sweet friend, the Rev. H. Elizabeth Back, an Episcopal priest and beekeeper to share what she’s discovered about God through her beehive. I hope her words will be as much of a blessing to you as they are me:
Jesus first made himself known to me when I was four years old looking at a blooming spring bouquet.
As the bees foraged, I heard God say the words, “This will be your life.”
You’ve heard of the burning bush. God spoke to me from a buzzing bush.
In that moment I understood God was calling me to be a priest in the Episcopal Church.
Forty years later I would accept another call: to become a beekeeper. After careful research and preparation of a hive I purchased a three-pound box crammed with 10,000 honeybees, a tin can filled with sugar water, and one virgin queen in her cage.
Upon arriving in our backyard her royal majesty was attended to by several ambassadors – other beekeeper friends.
We enthroned the queen in her new palace, then poured her colony in after her and watched them start to work building their sweet, sweet kingdom.
More than a beekeeper, bee-kept—I kept being entranced by their beauty and gentle humming.
I have studied honeybees for years. Even YouTube videos can be great, but so can sitting on the porch watching them.
As one beekeeper observed, “Anyone who has been near honeybees knows God.”
Honeybees bees are sticky.
If you’ve ever had the chance to see one up close and personal you know that they look like tiny plush toys. They are covered in fuzzy hairs with panniers on their hind legs to store the nectar. All those fuzzy hairs get covered in sticky pollen.
Honeybees are also slippery. The foragers return to the hive with the nectar and pollen and pass it to a house honeybee who stores it in the comb.
Honeybees know when to take up the pollen and when to lay down the pollen. They know when to gather and when to give over.
They know to stick to the good stuff and if they don’t need something they let it slide.
Bees know when to be sticky and when to be slippery.
Jesus lives and dies a honeybee. Not with pollen and nectar. Rather, with forgiveness. He lays down his life, letting it slip from him. He takes up his life and sticks to being a human. He takes our sins upon himself- sticky business that. He forgives us our sins, letting them slip from memory.
Jesus gives His bee-ing to those who follow Him.
Look at Peter as he’s seen in the book of Acts. There was once a time when Peter said he would stick to Jesus, until the night when he sat in the courtyard of Caiaphas the high priest and the maid confronted him.
Peter slipped up and denied he’d ever met Jesus. That was before Jesus cross-pollinated the world. Now look at Peter. He’s full of the nectar of good news and he delivers it everywhere he can.
I wish I were more honeybee.
My heart is sticky where I wish it would forgive and slippery where I wish it were steadfast. I’ve held onto empty spools of thread longer than good friends. I let myself get stuck on stuff that I don’t need and let slide the stuff I really do need.
But I have the same hope you do, the same hope given to Peter. You and I have been cross-pollinated with the love of God in Christ. So long as we stay near His cross we know what to give up, give over, give in to, to whom we are given.
The cross tells us what to keep and what to release.
The cross tells us Jesus is the one who can lay down our sins in his death and take up our life with His new life.
Perhaps, like me, you pray, “Jesus keep me close. Be my keeper.”
But Jesus has a prayer for us. That we would accept his release and join His work. He’s been released from the grave and is working to build his sweet, sweet kingdom.
- Watch. Session 4: Discovering a Land Overflowing with Honey (10:10) on the DVD.
- Write. Respond Session 4 of homework in the workbook (pages 66-83).
- Read. Chapter 3.1 – 3.9 (pages 117-153) in the book.
- Interact in the Private Facebook Group. Share what ideas or phrases that catch your attention. What God is challenging or showing you through the material. How we can pray for you. And of course, you’re welcome to send in quirky questions, too, since I’ll be interacting with them throughout our time together.
- Join me on Facebook Live this week.
What leaves you in awe of the Creator?