My Daddy taught me to love gardening and I think of him every year around Valentine’s Day. Why? A couple of reasons. One is that he always brought me the first Narcissus bloom around this time. As we reminisced about that, I told mom that I was sorry he didn’t bring them to her and she simply said, “Never!” I guess he knew how much I loved them and how many memories they carried from my childhood. A simple gesture of love, really.
The other reason is that he never let me forget that roses need to be pruned around February 14th. I forget lots of things that he taught me about gardening, but never that. No matter what the weather, the clippers come out this time of year and I start chopping away. I’m really not knowledgeable enough to do a great job, but I listen to his voice in my head saying, “You have to cut it back more than you think but not so much that it can’t survive.”
Daddy was a preacher. Even when he wasn’t preaching.
This year, as I studied the branches that were crossing, crowded areas that needed more sun and dead branches that wouldn’t survive, I carefully clipped. “Carefully” because those thorns never fail to get me. No matter how careful I am, my hands are poked, scratched and bleeding by the end of the day. But that’s the price you pay for a healthy plant and beautiful roses in a few more months.
Roses…the symbol of love this time of year. As people are paying lots of money for a dozen roses to give to someone they love, I’m cutting back a plant that looks like it may not survive. And I feel it’s pain.
Deeper than any other year of pruning…I feel every snip of the clippers. I feel the doubt that it will produce a flourishing plant full of blooms that bring joy and color to the world. I feel the fear that I’m cutting so much that it’s simply going to give up and die.
And I wonder if God is doing too much pruning for my heart to handle.
Will I come out of this healthier? More fruitful? Beautiful?
I have to trust that the master gardener knows what he’s doing better than my daddy did. I have to trust in the truth that I’ve always seen these roses come back to life. In fact, that’s why I love spring. Because it’s a living lesson that life comes after death in this world…and in my heart. In God’s economy, it ALWAYS does.
I make a conscious decision to surrender to his hands and to his wisdom. I can’t understand the ways of God but I do understand that he loves me. He knows my heart. He knows my need. And he knows where we are headed. So, if he’s doing the delicate work of pruning in my life, he’s doing it with a plan in mind. Even when I can’t see it, I can trust that his goal is to have a fruitful plant that brings love and beauty into his world. Even when I become prickly and fight back against the process, he gently whispers to my heart and moves me forward at a pace I can handle.
Looking at this rose bush, I’m concerned that it looks lifeless and has suffered a traumatic loss, but God encourages me that he has created a world that will bring abundance and beauty as it (and I) simply receive what He provides. It all comes from his hand. It’s all grace. It’s all love. And the thorns and cutting and death of the season will only produce more beauty and love to share in the next.
So, Lord…let it be.