About That Bed of Roses

Butchart Gardens (56)If you’ve been alive for more than a few years, you’ve heard the warning, “Well, life’s not a bed of roses, you know.” This is supposed to help someone needing encouragement during a tough time in life.

Strolling the large rose garden at Butchart Gardens in Victoria, BC, a few weeks ago, this saying came back to me, and I considered it differently.

Roses are beautiful in their multitude of colors, shapes, sizes, and even fragrances! The petals are like velvet, and the effect of both color and aroma can be calming to the senses. Unfortunately, this is the only part of the rose included in this erroneous cliché, somehow limiting the entire plant to just the blossom, forgetting the plant from which those flowers grow.

Butchart Gardens (60)Years ago, I grew roses – yes, Kay, the non-gardener — caring for them diligently in the hot climate and sandy soil of the Tampa area. Initially, some beauties were produced in that garden – before successive years with no opportunity for hibernation joined with diseases and pests determined to live off these bushes brought my effort to an end.

Of all the spiritual lessons I learned during my rose years, the most glaring disproved that cliché. Indeed, life is a bed of roses. There are pretty and not-so-pretty parts. There are smooth, fresh, even sweet-smelling times, and then there are times you only see or feel the pain of thorns. But a bush is not a rose bush without the thorns, leading to the beauty of the blossom. Likewise, our life is not made of only the seasons of evident fruit. The tougher times, the ones forcing our roots to go deeper, with no velvet, no color, no obvious fragrance above, work together to produce a more complete beauty – the evidence of Christ in and through us. Two verses seem to intertwine to bring strength and comfort during the thornier parts of our journey:

Romans 8:28 For we know that all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purposes.

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.

If you are in a non-blooming period of life, may you remember this simple bed-of-roses illustration. And may the eternal hope of Christ arise at the prospect of the as-yet-unseen beautiful blooms He is developing in you.James Bay historic district (10)

The End . . . or the Beginning?

You are probably familiar with the dilemma of a glass being half-full or half-empty.  It’s obvious the glass has only one amount of liquid, but it’s a person’s perception of it that colors their outlook.  Someone who considers it half-empty probably sees that there is only so much left before it is all gone – and “then what will we do?”  On the other hand, those who see it as half-full probably think, “Wow!  I still have half the glass left to drink!”  I couldn’t help but see myself in this principle during a time of change in my life.

While I recognized the hand of the Lord in the changes, I was focused on the ending of things, resulting in a sadness permeating everything I did or thought.  As I prayed before bed one night, however, knowing the next morning would be the first day following the “end”, the Lord spoke to my heart that it was really the first day of the beginning I was facing.  I was actually stepping into something brand new, not just leaving something behind.  It is an understatement to say this simple sentence changed my whole outlook!  Though I still didn’t know what I was beginning, and things really were ending, I now saw it from God’s perspective.  I now saw my glass as half-full, rather than half-empty.  Further, I could see He was beginning the process of filling it up again – with new and different experiences to add to those He had given me before.

Philippians 3:13-1413. . .Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)

Had I continued to dwell on the endings – with a half-empty glass mentality – I’m sure I would have missed much of what the Lord had for me in the changes.  I couldn’t have pressed forward with my all because I’d have been looking backwards – and that makes progress difficult, if not impossible.  God’s Word changed my perspective so I could see the glass as half-full, awaiting His refilling, no longer half-empty and running out.  Sadness was replaced with excitement and anticipation about the new things Daddy had for me in this adventure of life in Christ, because it’s not the end, but the beginning!

Proverbs 3:5-6 “5 Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.  6 In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.”  AMP