I was looking at this image of a rose this morning.
It struck me that we all love the beauty and (when they’re scented) fragrance of the rose, and the many images of the rose in art and literature – the poem by Robbie Burns, “My love is like a red, red, rose” comes to mind immediately – express well the fact that roses symbolise much of what our flesh longs for. But I was drawn to the “dead head” behind the bloom, where the petals have fallen and the seed head, the fruit, is beginning to form. When I looked at it I thought that in its own way it is as beautiful as the flower, full of all sorts of little details of life in transition that the Creator has put in place.
And I felt the Lord say something like this, not just to me but to many of us:
“You seek the beauty of the bloom, but like the grass it is transient and soon fades and falls. Consider what I am doing in the seedhead that is being formed, for this is the part of your life that I am looking at. You may feel at times like the flower that is over. You may feel that everything is in transition. But it is in the seedhead that is forming, and that the eyes of the world pass by, where my life is hidden. You don’t need the appreciation that the world gives to the beauty of the flower: you need to remember that it is the seeds of my life and of my word that I have put into you that are of lasting value.”
Jake also had a word about roses, which he sent me this afternoon. This does emphasise the fragrance and beauty of the bloom rather than its transience. He had been looking at a climbing rose in his garden. It may even be this one, as it’s his picture. He writes:
“What I felt the Lord say was that not only do we need to be grafted into the vine of the rose, but we also need to be shaped and tied back in order that we can bear the fruit that we are called to bear, without breaking or being burdened with it. The tying down or tying back I feel is being linked into the Body of Christ, and having close fellowship with other believers, and in this way becoming one beautiful rose bearing much fruit and becoming a showpiece of His glory. The Lord says: ‘The wind that will carry your aroma is my Holy Spirit, and the bees that pollinate my body are those who share my word: both believers and non believers who visit the church and talk about my body in a positive light.’ ”
I (Bob) think it is important that we catch what God is saying about being “tied into” fellowship with others. When winds blow and storms rise, blooms that are leaning out on their own are in danger of being broken off.