Sunday, May 22, 2011

What kind of flower are you?

Let your hope keep you joyful, be patient in your troubles, and pray at all times. – Romans 12:12 (TEV)

My husband and I were at our church’s annual sweetheart dinner, and the men were taking a how-well-do-you-know-your-wife quiz. “What is your wife’s favorite flower?” was one of the questions. He wrote “roses.”
Roses are nice, I thought, but they’re not my favorite flower. I tried to come up with an answer, but the truth was I didn’t have a favorite flower. I didn’t know I was supposed to. I liked all flowers, especially wild ones.
That was years ago. I didn’t give the favorite-flower question much thought until recently.
“I just love lilacs,” I told my husband one day as we sat at the dining room table, the fragrance of lilacs filling the room. “They’re my favorite flower.”
But I had to qualify that.
“For fragrance, that is,” I added quickly. “I like carnations because you can put them in water, and they last for weeks. And I like daisies because they are such a happy flower.”
“You know,” I said, looking at my husband, “I want to be like those three flowers: fragrant like the lilacs, hardy like the carnation and happy like the daisy.” 
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that those three flowers also symbolize my faith.
The lilac symbolizes my prayer life. Just as the lilac’s soft fragrance continually fills the air around it, so should my prayers ascend to God, like the Old Testament sacrifices that were described as a “pleasing aroma,” a “sweet-smelling savor,” or a “fragrant offering” to the Lord. As I love to stand next to my lilac bush when it’s covered with blossoms, inhaling the heady scent, so I imagine God inhaling the sweet scent of my prayer offerings to Him.
The carnation symbolizes endurance. Hardy, even for black-thumbed me, the carnation doesn’t need babied. But too often I’m like the rose – I want to be beautiful for God, but I have to be pampered if I am to last. When life’s circumstances heat up, I whine, I pout, I wilt. But the Christian life isn’t a flower shop, where perfect conditions are cultivated for the flowers to thrive. It’s more like the world outside, where weather conditions can change in a moment, and endurance is necessary if I am to thrive for God.
Finally, the daisy symbolizes, to me, the joy that comes from hope. Such a little word, and so often dwarfed next to its giant big brother faith, hope is my song in the night. It’s what keeps me going in the tough times, what keeps me putting one step in front of the other on this long, hard journey called life. Hope in my heart is what puts the smile on my face. Hope is knowing that although there may be tears in the night, joy will come with the morning light. And morning always comes.

Lord, help me to be fragrant like the lilac, hardy like the carnation, and happy like the daisy. Amen.

Special-tea: Read Romans 12

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