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, but they’re not my favorite flower. I tried to come up with my own answer to the question, but the truth was I didn’t have a favorite flower. I didn’t know I was supposed to. I like all flowers, especially wild ones. 

I didn’t give the favorite-flower question much thought until years later. 

“I just love lilacs,” I told DH 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. “I like carnations because you can put them in water, and they last for weeks. And I like daisies because they’re such a happy flower.”

“You know,” I continued, “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 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 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’m to last. When life’s circumstances heat up, I whine, pout, and wilt. 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’m to thrive for God.

Finally, for me, the daisy symbolizes 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.

 MORE TEA: Read and reflect on Romans 12.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. 

Images courtesy of Pixabay.com. Free for commercial use. No attribution required.

Slim Pickings

“Here is a boy here with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” – John 6:9 (NIV)

He was one of the children among the crowd following Jesus that day. He carried with him five small barley loaves and two tiny fish, perhaps packed by his mother when he left that morning. When Jesus eyed the throng, He turned to Philip. “Where are we going to buy bread for all these people?” 

“Eight months’ wages wouldn’t buy enough for everyone to have even a bite!” Philip answered. It was Philip, remember, who later asked Jesus to “Show us the Father, and we’ll be satisfied,” to which Jesus replied, “You’ve been with Me all this time, Philip, and you still don’t know Me? Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father!” Poor, blind Philip. 

It was Andrew who volunteered the lad’s lunch. He, too, didn’t see the potential, didn’t connect the dots, after all Jesus’ miracles he’d witnessed: “But how will five small barley loaves and two small fish feed 15,000 people?” 

You know the rest of the story—the multitude was fed and the leftovers filled 12 baskets!

But what if the boy had refused to donate his munchies? The obvious answer is the people would have had to get something to eat themselves. The less noticeable answer is that a blessing—a huge blessing, a blow-your-mind, knock-your-socks-off kind of blessing—would have been missed.

The lad didn’t lose anything, didn’t give anything up, really. He, too, ate until he was full—of the small offering he gave to Jesus, who had the power to transform “not enough” into “more than enough.” 

Sometimes we think what we have to offer Jesus is slim pickings. How could it possibly make a difference? 

Ah, therein lies the test! 

Give Him all you have, no matter how small you think it is. Let it go, completely, all of it, like the little boy who held back none of his lunch. And watch God take what you give and multiply it so that it blesses more people than you could have imagined.  

Remember the words of Martin Luther: “I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess.”

I think of authors who have had many of their books and articles published, of speakers who take their messages the world over. I compare myself with them. And I feel so . . . little.

Shame on me. I’m blind like Philip and skeptical like Andrew, who no doubt thought he was being practical. 

Shame on me. I need to be more like the little boy who gave up his lunch—and trust that what I think is slim pickings, in the hands of God, will be multiplied many times over, work more miracles than I could ever have dreamed possible—and come back to bless me, too. 

Forgive me, Lord, for doubting what I have to offer could ever be enough to make a difference. Remind me that, in Your hands, little is much! Amen.

Read and reflect on: John 6:3–13.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.