One of the loveliest plants I know
Is a beautiful thriving rose
From the blossoms on the thorny stems
To the fragrance, that from them flows.
But did you ever pass through the garden drear,
In the bleakness of early spring
And noticed those poor rose bushes
Such depressingly ugly things!
There isn’t a trace of summers rose
In those bare prickly stalks you see
After the gardener wields his shears
In the pruning of bush and tree.
So it is in life, and sometimes we see
A life that looks bare and bleak
No blooms to charm, no fruit to admire
We deduct that they must be sick.
For surely the Master Gardener
In all of His wisdom grand
Would never have pruned the branches back
With such a heavy hand.
Unless there were some disease inside
That rendered it almost dead.
If it were a healthy bush, would not
He let it grow instead?
So we pass by on the other side
Lest we be infected too.
With the plague we are sure our brother has
When really we have no clue.
Perhaps the fruit in our brother’s life
Is prime for the Master’s use
So He wields the shears with a tender hand
So the fruit will grow more profuse.
But we walk by with our heads held high
Pointing fingers to find the blame
For the things gone wrong in our brother’s life
And murmuring “What a shame.”
Maybe instead, when our brother is down,
We could let him know we care.
Or take his hand and join with him
Intreating our God in prayer.
As we learn and grow together
In wisdom and in years
Let’s not draw back in horror
At the work of the Masters shears.
When all we can see are the thorny stalks
Let’s remember the lovely rose
It has to be pruned, to prepare for June
When that sweet, sweet fragrance flows.
I have a lot of friends who have gone through hard, hard things in life. Often I’ve found they just grow sweeter and stronger from these hard things, and that is such a blessing to me.
However I have noticed that some hard things in life tend to attract judgement, not compassion. Human nature tends to look at certain situations as an opportunity to gossip instead of minister. A young pregnant teenager has her own struggles without us pouring on our judgement and assumptions. We who are pro-life need to step in and support and protect and disciple, to help her give that precious little God-created being the best chance possible.
The woman in a broken marriage needs love. She doesn’t want to be there. Is it not enough that she has to get up every morning and face her sad reality? If we weren’t walking beside her during the storm, we are not in a good position to comment on the wreckage.
The individual who admits they’ve been abused, needs support, not reasons, accusations, and blame. The fact that it happened can’t be changed. Now the goal should be to help them heal.
The man who confesses to having lived in sin while claiming Jesus, needs love. He is not “gross.” He is human. Yes it’s heart breaking. But Jesus died for these things. Think of the courage it took for him to confess. Think of the shame he deals with, without our judgement. Need we add more?
How damaging to his walk would it be to hear the whispered “I am just disappointed in him! Here I thought he was a godly man!”
May I suggest that the fact that he chose to confess is a sign of the Holy Spirit working in his life? Thanks be to the Master Gardener that He is pruning out the dead branches, so that more good fruit can grow!
Side note: The Bible says confession brings healing. I believe it. My Sunday school class gets together once a month outside of Sunday school, and I have been so blessed by just simple everyday sharing of our struggles, and things God is doing in our lives. It helps me realize I’m not alone in my humanity, and it’s just so special.
I have other close friends outside of my home congregation and with them I’ve been blessed by the same type of sharing. It fosters a brotherly/sisterly love and compassion for each other that would probably not be there otherwise.
And if we don’t have compassion, can we claim to be students of the Master?
We are the body. Let’s reach out with gentle hands that heal. Let’s have feet that are busy going to the rescue of our brothers and sisters. Let’s have the law of kindness on our tongue.
Let’s not embrace and wallow in our humanity, but let’s own it, learn from it, and keep looking to Jesus for a perfect example.
And let’s love one another. Thorns and all.