Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Who's Eating Your Roses?

“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”
(1 Peter 5:7)
     This summer I planted roses.  I chose what are called “knock-out roses” because they are hardy, don’t require a lot of water and are not finicky.  Especially in the summer, when the days are hot, they seem to do just fine. 
     Color is at a premium up here, especially in the summer.  The grasses are a tawny brown, and the sage is well, sage-colored.  The sunflowers that spring up are a perky lemon yellow, but they tend to take over and move from “Wow, those are neat” to “Hey, are those weeds?”  These sunflowers are also havens to wasps, so you don’t mess with them…the wasps or the sunflowers! 
     Can you imagine what a delight it is then to have PINK and RED up here?  My gladiolas were magnificent this early summer, and I rejoiced in the yellow, peach, orange-red and crimson…but alas…they too fell prey to the raging summer sun.  But my roses!  They seem to do just fine.  But one day, the blossoms were gone.  Not just a few…all of them! Every bud and flower was gone, without a trace.  No incriminating fallen petals.  Gone…as if they were never there.  The culprit?
     You guessed it:  deer.  They put their little quivering lips over those bushes and vacuumed them clean.  I am sure they were pleased as punch at the results.  For as the landscape (and thus food supply) is a bit limited up here and very dry, so those moist rose petals must have been “filet mignon” to hungry deer, whose appetite for the local fare is waning.
     Was I pleased to provide a delicate dish for my four-legged neighbors?  No, for they stole my PINK and RED and the landscape has returned to its monotony.  (Those of you with gardens, do thank Him for everyday for the beauty that is there!  Remember:  life started in garden, and Christ prayed to His Father in a garden, and Revelation speaks of a garden for eternity!)
     I found joy in my roses.  Who is stealing your roses?  Who is stealing your joy?
     I find that Christians sometimes feel guilty for the roses in their lives, and feel only fulfilled if they only have sage brush to look at.  They feel that suffering is the only way to serve Christ, and if something or someone comes along and steals their joy, they feel helpless to stop it.
     Think of it this way:  Christ gives us roses, because in the monotony of a sinful world, where the landscape is dry and hurting, the roses are there to remind us of Him.  If we allow the deer eat our roses, our focus becomes fixated on the dry landscape, and we can become exhausted, forgetting the One Who loves us.
     Who or what is your "deer"? 
     Sometimes it is the sin in our past that robs us of our joy and we dwell on what we were, not what we are becoming in Him.
     Sometimes it is false belief, and without seeking earnestly what the Word says, we settle for a “truth” that nibbles away our joy and freedom in Him.
     Sometimes it is a person, whom we are trying to love, but who takes pleasure in destroying our joy.  Their landscape is barren and dry, and they are jealous that ours has roses.
     Sometimes it is a circumstance that has wandered into our lives and we grow weary that every rose is being nibbled away—our energy, our joy, and we feel that we are losing our purpose. 
     Consider why a plant has a flower in the first place:  to have seeds, that once pollinated, will bring forth the next generation of plant.  If our flowers are nibbled away, how can we bring forth what Christ would produce in our lives?
     What to do?  Well, I sprayed deer repellent on the fence to warn the deer that they weren’t welcome.  While we cannot harshly spray people/situational repellent on ourselves—we are called to love one another as Christ loves us--we can have gentle fences around us.  We put up a fence around our yard, and although it has access, it’s very limited.  We can limit access to those people or situations that steal our joy.  What if it’s a “deer” that we can’t just fence out?  Prayer, prayer, prayer.  Prayer is “Satan- repellent” and we need to be careful to fence him out and focus on the Spirit within.  Christ is our ultimate Rose, our ultimate Joy, and if we are to sustain through the heat of summer, we must delight ourselves in Him. 
Fences, Lord, gentle fences are perhaps what I need to keep the deer away, or at least give them very limited access.  I want to serve You by loving others, but help me be discerning with those I encounter, and help me to stand on my knees in prayer when the deer are in me.  In His precious name, amen.

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