Ken had left that day to get our youngest daughter moved home from college in Oklahoma City and I was alone in the house. That night we experienced one of the fiercest lightening and thunder storms I have ever seen come over Baton Rouge. My first thought after fear at being alone in the house was the rose arbor. Surely the storm would beat to pieces the blooms we had hoped to enjoy this year. The next morning I went out to examine the damage and yes, she was badly beaten down. The patio was covered with her petals.
But over the weekend I watched her branches rise to the sun and the remaining buds burst forth in beautiful little rose blossoms.
She was shining in her Creator’s glory despite the storm. I smiled - how like her. Her life has been a testimony to me of perseverance and beauty since 1991.
Our rose arbor has had a long and adventurous history. Twenty two years ago my friend Monica and I traveled to Texas to visit the Antique Rose Emporium. We had seen some beautiful pictures in a magazine and decided to make a girls trip. It was quite the adventure of getting lost, ending up in a rather unusual little inn in the middle of nowhere. The inn was definitely “misrepresented” in it’s advertisement and not quite up to our expectations. Anyway, after a sleepless night in a somewhat “converted” old train car we went on our journey to the Antique Rose Emporium. It was spectacular! Everywhere the most exquisite roses I had ever seen were in full bloom. We were quite carried away. So much so that I came home with 17 new roses! It was definitely an impulsive buy and I think my friend bought at least that many! To this day I’m not sure how we fit them all in my van. We arrived home with the loaded car much to the surprise of our unsuspecting husbands. You see I hadn’t really thought this whole thing through very well. I was just taken away by their beauty. There were no beds prepared, no arbor was built. There was no garden design! On top of that when we got home it rained for about 30 days straight so we couldn’t even get them in the ground! We just knew they would all die before we could even try to establish the beautiful new rose gardens of our dreams and imaginations! The focal point of my new garden was to be the Cecile Brunner roses growing over the arbor that was yet to be built!
We watched for years as she grew strong and each year the blossoms in spring would be a lovely display of beauty to behold. She was a survivor. Her roots grew deep. Through the years she has been completely blown off of her wooden arbor in 3 different hurricanes! After each storm we would get out the ladders, cut away the destroyed branches and carefully lift and tie her back onto the arbor. Somehow she always persevered, never uprooted completely even though we lost many trees in these same storms. I can’t imagine our home without her. She has given shade for picnic lunches, Sunday dinners and little girls tea parties. Her branches have provided shelter for countless baby birds in their nests. She is as unpredictable as the storms she has survived. A few years ago she even persevered through the poison of an overzealous weed killing gardener whose name I won’t mention! I cried as I watched one side of her slowly die. The leaves turned brown and the branches died. I just couldn’t bring myself to cut her down completely and the dead branches were all intertwined with the other side of the arbor which was thriving. Then to our surprise the next spring a new shoot came forth from the main branch which we thought was dead and in the following years she thrived once again - growing strong over the support of the wooden arbor built by treasured friends.
We never know exactly when her blooms will peak - sometimes March, usually April, but this year Mother’s Day. A special gift to me during this year that has been full of so many trials. Her display of glory is always a surprise. The anticipation is all part of the joy. The air was full of the sweet smell of her little blooms last weekend and is still fragrant today as I write. You see these little roses are not so showy by themselves like others in my garden. It is the mass of flowers blooming together that makes it so glorious. As I have enjoyed her blooms this season I have been struck again by the many faith lessons the Lord teaches me in the garden.
When our roots are deep we can persevere through the storms of life.
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him,
rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught,
and overflowing with thankfulness.
Colossians 2:6-7 NIV
This has been a year of testing and trials for us. There have been many storms in ministry, in health, in life. I cannot imagine trying to persevere through our life during the last year without the love, loyalty, and prayers of friends.
A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need. Proverbs 17:17 NLT
The storms that have tested our roses on the arbor have made her stronger, more precious to us. When she blooms in the glory of her Creator she is a display of hope and His splendor. I never take her display of beauty for granted. I watch for it and anticipate its arrival.
We rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3-4
Our sufferings can produce within us a character that we would never have known had we not persevered. The beauty that emerges has a special strength, dignity and hope for others who journey with us because we know that it is clothed with the grace and love of the Savior.
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:3-8 NIV
Perhaps you are facing your own trials today and need the encouragement of God’s Word and a loyal friend to make it through.
Remember this truth - Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12 NIV
We must pray that the trials and testings we will surely face in the days ahead will produce perseverance, character and hope in our lives.
Is the Lord calling you to be that loyal friend who provides shelter to another in need?
Let your roots go deep into Christ today so that you will not perish in the storms of life. Dig deep into the truths that He has for you. You will find in Him all that you need to persevere and emerge with His strength and beauty.
Enjoying God's beauty and grateful for lessons learned from a rose,
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