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Archive for July 4th, 2016

(No new sermon this week.)

One of my closest friends in church, I’ll call her Jane, is very ill, so much so that we fear that the end might be near for her; as you might imagine, we have all been praying for her. While I was in my prayer closet early in the morning a few days ago, during the time when I was praying for Jane, I inexplicably, and with no forethought, got the idea that I wanted a rose from my rosebush to bring to her when a group from our church would be visiting her in her home on the next day. 

Let me say at this point that this is probably the worst-looking rosebush in the Western Hemisphere. It has lots of bare branches, it always has yellow and brown leaves, bugs or snails or I don’t know what are constantly chewing up the leaves… it’s a WRECK. In addition, not only does this thing have a ton of big thorns, but the entire stem is covered with some kind of other sharp bristly stuff; this bush is like a medieval torture device. I don’t EVER bring anybody roses from this bush, because it’d be like giving them a bunch of barbed wire; that’s hardly an appropriate thing to bring to ANYONE, much less someone who is too sick to get out of bed without assistance. It was a moot point, though; there had not been any roses on that bush for a couple of months (I think that all the previous roses were dead or dying by Mother’s Day, which was May 8).

Obviously, then, the thought of taking a rose from that bush to Jane should never have entered my head. Having had the thought, it was beyond ridiculous to actually SAY it; nevertheless, I equally inexplicably ASKED God to give me a rose for her on that bush.  Before I could figure out how THAT had come out of my mouth… I then, again with no premeditation, said that He could put a rose for her on there right now that would be ready to go on Thursday if He wanted to!!  Seriously, would YOU tell God, TWICE, that you wanted a rose from a bush that had been barren for 2 months, and that mostly produced THORNS? Have you ever heard of anyone praying for God to actually physically create something for them to give as a gift, or to physically create ANYTHING other than babies or maybe rainclouds? I was so stunned that I had asked for this crazy thing TWICE, that I immediately started babbling that of course she was not expecting a rose, and would be happy to see me no matter what, and I would give her all the love and encouragement that I could. I finally gathered up my wits and went back to praying.

When I got back to the family room about 10 minutes later, I went to the window and looked out… and there it was!! ONE tiny rose that had just opened enough to be completely out of the bud stage. That bush has NEVER, in the many years I’ve been here, put out just ONE rose; if it wants to bloom, it sends out a bunch of buds all at the same time, and they bloom pretty close to the same time too, filling every receptacle in the house. That’s the way EVERY rosebush blooms, according to everyone I’ve asked; one bloom on an otherwise barren bush just does not exist.

I examined the bush EXTREMELY carefully; there were no other roses, not the slightest hint of any other buds, no new leaves or new growth, no reddish tips indicating points where new growth was about to occur… Just that ONE rose. It’s not the parting of the Red Sea… but it WAS a miracle.

I pretty much needed another miracle, or at least divine assistance, to cut the rose down, because it was WAY over my head, and all the way in the back of the bush, with about 10 billion thorns between me and it. The Holy Spirit guided me, while I was looking up at the rose in puzzlement, to absentmindedly trim off some dead stuff; when I was done, it turned out that I had trimmed myself an open space through which I could stretch my arm to grab the branch that had the rose at the end of it, so I could pull the branch down and reach a spot that was thin enough that I could cut through it, a couple of feet below the rose, and thus get the rose detached from the bush. Possibly the trickiest part was maneuvering that long piece of rose branch down through the maze of other branches, leaves and THORNS, all without damaging the rose… but I did that, too, and without getting a single puncture or scratch on my skin. 

After that, it was comparatively easy to trim the stem down to a reasonable length, cut off all of the numerous thorns, and pick off all the… I guess the little green dots were aphids, and the little black ones were maybe ants… anyways, this bush is FULL of bugs, too, did I forget to mention? When I took it out of the glass of water I’d been keeping it in, I wrapped the bottom half of the stem in wet paper towels to keep it moist and fresh on a summer’s day, followed by a bunch of layers of plastic grocery bags to seal the moisture in and provide a dry handle to hold it by. There has probably never been so much effort involved in getting ONE rose ready to be given to someone… but it was worth it:

When I put the carefully-wrapped rose stem into her tiny, frail hands, I told her about the miracle in a few short sentences (she’s very weak, and we knew that we could not be there with her long); in the faint whisper that is the only voice she has right now, she said, “Praise the Lord,” and lifted the rose up to touch it against her lips. She is an amazing woman of faith, and she knew that the only way for that rose to have been there was that God put it there… for HER. 

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Looking back, I’m reasonably certain that my bizarre thought, and the way it came out of my mouth TWICE without intention or premeditation, must’ve come from the Holy Spirit, because it is so TOTALLY foreign to what I might actually expect myself to think. The Holy Spirit is frequently responsible for putting guidance, ideas and thoughts in our minds, so this is entirely possible. The Bible talks about the Holy Spirit helping us pray in tongues, and if he can do that, he can certainly help us to pray in regular words as well. I’ve seen many times in my church where God will ask one person to pray for another, and then God gives the prayed-for person a miracle; this could certainly be an example of that. Why does God not just give the miracle? He seems to want to keep us involved and praying for each other; it’s more work for Him, but then again, it’s not like He has limited time or energy or anything. More to the point, if He’s doing miracles, who cares which way He uses to do them? We just need to be grateful and give praise.

If you ever get something crazy in your mind when you’re praying… let it out!! You might end up with a miracle that will lift you up for the rest of your life.

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