When they were little our daughters frequently asked me to tell the story of the flowers. In consideration of the circumstances at the time the story would vary, but it usually went something like this.
Four flowers grew together in a lovely greenhouse. A red rose, a purple tulip, a yellow daisy and a pink camellia were carefully planted, watered, fertilized and pruned. The gardener took very good care of them and they were very healthy and safe growing up inside the greenhouse.
Sometimes a pesky fungus began to accumulate and bothered the flowers so the gardener would have to carefully clean it off. Sometimes the tulip would look over at the camellia and say, “Hey! Why is she pink and I’m not? And why does she get those kinds of pedals and I don’t? That’s not fair.” The gardener would explain to the tulip that she was made to be just the way she is, purple, smooth and elegant with upright pedals. She was not made to be pink or with open crinkly pedals. The tulip had trouble understanding this, but finally accepted it when she realized that she did not make herself, but was created.
As the flowers grew older they outgrew the greenhouse and had to be transplanted one at a time out in to the garden. Outside of the greenhouse presented many dangers with exposure to bugs and germs and occasional storms which the gardener had warned them about. Even though the gardener would still watch out for them, the flowers had to remember everything the gardener had taught them and learn to take care of themselves and watch out for one another as well.
When the flowers would get sickly or lose pedals with disease or passing storms, the gardener would come out and tend to the flowers cleaning them up and teaching them how to navigate successfully through trying circumstances. Through trouble and hardship the flowers learned how to avoid sickness and how to maintain protection during storms. However, they still had lots to learn.
With two traditional and two non-traditional flowers, our garden has a nice balance. These days the flowers are gaining more independence from the gardener who tends less and less but will always have a heart of stewardship to stay connected with theirs. Each flower over the years has faced her share of insects and storms and is always learning, always growing in wisdom.
In the meantime, stewarding their hearts is everything, especially when they’re not blooming exactly as the gardener would prefer. After all they are God’s creation, and in to His image they’re being conformed from within. As long as He continues molding their hearts, then they will continue following His calling. Hearing, “I love you, Mom,” is a good sign and this gardener knows that as long as she holds their hearts gracefully they will blossom beautifully in God’s timing.
But Jesus called them [ the parents] to Him, saying, Allow the little children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for to such [as these] belongs the kingdom of God.
The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.
1 Samuel 16:7
But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”