A Sucker or a Rose?

You probably are familiar with the parable of the wheat and tares found in Matthew 13, where Jesus warns that His true followers are like the wheat of a field whereas others who follow the world and may even appear to the naive as Christ’s followers, but aren’t, are the tares, which is another word for weeds. Wheat and tares grow side by side and look very similar until they are fully mature and ready to be harvested. If the tares are weeded out of the field or world early on, it may cause the wheat not to mature. Therefore, at the end of the age, there will be a harvest. At such a harvest, the tares or weeds will be destroyed from Earth through burning, while the wheat will be stored safely in God’s barn.

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{photo credit: Hanford Rose}

Many rose bushes you buy at local home improvement stores and nurseries are grafted onto a hardy, vigorous root stock. If you see a knot at the base of a rose, this is called a “bud union” where the two plants are united. Once planted, below the ground is the hardy root stock. Above the ground is the bush you selected for it’s color, fragrance, disease resistance, etc. Sometimes, what’s known as a “sucker” grows up out of the ground alongside the rose bush you purchased. The sucker is a separate cane that has manifested from the root stock. The sucker often looks similar at first to the rose bush you bought – after all, it is still a rose cane. Eventually, as both the sucker and the intended rose bush develop, the gardener will realize the sucker is indeed a very different bloom than the one they bought. If one is new to rose gardening though, it would be easy to assume the sucker is in fact a normal part of the rose bush until both mature. It is then, one will clearly be able to differentiate the two just like the reapers could in the parable of the wheat and tares. Once the gardener determines the difference, the sucker must be removed.

How about you? Are you a glorious rose in God’s garden or are you a look-alike sucker that will eventually be removed?

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Fighting With The Wind

Yesterday, the strong winds violently shook my solid holly tree, whipped my small garden flag, and swirled my hair all around me as I took out the garbage. Today, a gentle breeze soothes my roses from the warmth of the Spring Sun. And as the bees buzz around searching for new buds and the butterfly flutters, they fight with the wind. Meanwhile, the roses sway in the motion of the wind as if relaxed by it’s movement.

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Peace with Fourth of July in background

I wonder why it is we all too often fight with the wind for the wind signifies the Spirit of God. Jesus informs us God is Spirit and where it comes from and where it goes we cannot easily determine. We can only do so by listening to the sound of it (see John 3:3-8). Christ teaches much depth in such analogies, but one could decode the importance of listening for the Voice of His Spirit  or His Wind in order to follow Him wherever He blows. Furthermore, we cannot see His Holy Spirit as the Jews could see His flesh, but we can see the effects of Him blowing around us, in us, and through us. Do you fight the sound of His wind as a struggling insect or do you welcome it like a relaxed rose? What does His Wind sound like to you? What does He look like in your garden? Life is too short to fight with the wind.

Getting Dirty For God

bareroootsoakingUpon letting the roots of my newly purchased bare root rose soak in a bucket of water for approximately 24 hours, I decided to recruit my 11 year old son in helping me plant it. Although willing to help me out, my son was not keen on getting his hands too dirty. After all, his hands prefer Legos and videos games. Nevertheless, I figured he could use the sunshine and learn a thing or too in the process. After choosing the desired area of where I wanted to plant my new rose, we saturated the ground to make the digging easier while also testing the drainage of soil. My son and I then took a few turns plunging the shovel in the dirt till we reached the width and depth we needed. By this point, we were ready to transplant the bare root rose from being in the bucket filled with water to it’s permanent home in the ground. Because the ground was reasonably muddy, I put on pink rubber gloves to protect my freshly painted nails. Apparently, even I don’t like to get my hands too dirty!

I proceed to create a mound of soil in the shape of a pyramid within the hole so I could rest the rose on top of the mound while sprawling it’s roots out as best as possible for optimal growth. barerootplanted.webWhile holding the rose in one hand, or glove I should say, I used the other to pack the dirt around the roots as well as the dirt around the base of the rose till she was firmly secure. Overall, the process of planting our newly adopted rose was a success, but we sure did make a muddy mess.

Many days later, I reflect on how we as Christians often like the beauty of our Christian traditions and concepts much like we enjoy the beauty of roses or the idea of a lovely garden. pinkdirtygloves.webHowever, we don’t usually like to be too inconvenienced by getting our hands dirty. It’s far easier to be comfortable in our faith journey or to be what I call “convenient Christians” than followers of Christ willing to follow Him all the way to our own cross and eventual resurrection. More often we prefer to stand around like my son and watch others get dirty for God. Or if we do take the plunge, we set limits on our love by wearing gloves so the depth of our devotion doesn’t stain our nails, alter our appearance, or even transform us.And yet, Christ’s devotion willingly took the depth of a few nails to remove our sinful stains with the hopes we’d be firmly rooted in His garden.