It wasn’t my intention to go to the florist shop. First I tried the bargain grocery store where you can sometimes get a half dozen good looking roses for $4. That morning, however, it was obvious the flower bunches had been there for more than a couple days. All the petals were limp and drooping. Next I drove to the conveniently located gourmet food store. They too had flowers, beautiful bouquets, but the prices were more than I wanted to spend. Determined to get my friend some kind of flower for her birthday, I drove down the street to the local florist shop.
I walked in and went straight to the glass case to see which flowers looked the most vibrant and least likely to wilt. I was immediately drawn to a bucket of yellow roses. They were bright in color with long, thick stems and many were opened to a fullness that not all roses are able to achieve. They were lovely. I glanced at the lilies and dark pink roses. “Not as nice,” I thought. The lady came over to offer her assistance so I asked her to pick a nice healthy one from the bucket. It was almost unnecessary to say because they all looked so beautiful. I walked away to pick out a card confident in her ability to choose.
When I turned around, she was wrapping the yellow rose in the plastic with greens and baby’s breath. I looked at the flower she chose and I was immediately disappointed. It was small, tightly closed and had some brown spots on the petals! In comparison to the others, it was not impressive at all. I was sorry I hadn’t picked out the rose myself but I didn’t complain, at least outwardly, took my change and left.
Back in the car looking at the unattractive flower, I contemplated whether or not to give it to my friend at all and then considered taking off some of the petals to make it seem prettier. Finally, I decided I would go forward, after all my efforts to find her a flower, consoling myself with those somewhat comforting words, “It’s the thought that counts.”
All of a sudden, I got this insight: the “ugly rose” could be compared to us. We tend to see ourselves as small in our own eyes in regard to believing we can be useful to God. As well, we shut our hearts tight at times in an effort to protect ourselves from further emotional hurt. We can also find ourselves imagining that there are some brown stains on our souls, remnants of our choices or the actions of others.
When the Lord sent the prophet Samuel to pick the next king from among Jesse’s sons, Samuel looked at all of David’s handsome, tall and capable brothers and thought surely one of them was God’s anointed choice. He was incorrect. The Lord taught Samuel this lesson that day, “I do not see as man sees. Man looks on the outward appearance,” He said, “But I look on the heart.” They had to go searching for David in the back of the “bucket”, in the fields, where he was humbly tending to the sheep. He was man’s least likely choice but the Lord knew he would blossom and grow into a true worshipper, the kind God seeks after!
In defense of the woman at the florist shop, roses that are tightly closed when bought can blossom slowly and have longer lives. Also, the size of a rose doesn’t indicate how sweet its scent will be nor do taller stems automatically mean a flower is healthier. This is the lesson of the yellow rose: Instead of negatively judging ourselves, as we sometimes do, by how we look outwardly compared to others, how developed our abilities are today or by the mistakes of our past, we could ask the Lord to show us what He sees. The Lord looks at our hearts and our imperfect efforts to love Him and calls us precious. He tells us we can do great things for Him and compassionately offers us healing for our hurting hearts when we are ready to let Him in. He is the ultimate gentleman. And the brown stains we may think are still there? He says He has made us white as snow!
So if you ever receive a flower that initially seems less than perfect, please love and care for it anyway. The same way we need to care for ourselves: gently, lovingly and kindly. Just like cut flowers are fed with special food, remember to feed yourself daily with the nourishment God offers us in His Word. Likewise, as the flowers need pure, clean water, we can receive our spiritual refreshment by spending time with God’s Holy Spirit. As we do this, He can open our spiritual eyes to see ourselves as He sees us. Amen and amen!
Eve Goldstein is an author, photographer and speaker from Newburgh, NY. She began writing poetry at a very young age and still says there is nothing as wonderful as feeling inspired to put words on paper. Her two books in print, Special You! and Charles, the Amazing Acorn – A Story of Courage and Hope for All Ages both came out of a heart to encourage and comfort others. Eve is determined to show the world that Love is the cornerstone of life. Her mission is to inspire people, of all walks of life and ages, to engage in a real relationship with God, who is Love. You can reach her with comments, questions or to make book purchases at firstname.lastname@example.org