Friday, December 14, 2007

Christmas Roses?

I just have to share this story that was posted on Low Carb Discussion the other day....

I hope it moves in your heart the way it did in mine.

Merry Christmas to each and everyone of you. :)

"Good afternoon, can I help you?"

Sandra was startled by the approach of the shop clerk. "I . . . I need
an arrangement," stammered Sandra.

"For Christmas ? I'm convinced that flowers tell stories," she
continued. "Are you looking for something that conveys 'gratitude' this
Christmas?"

"Not exactly!" Sandra blurted out. "In the last five months, everything
that could go wrong has gone wrong."

Sandra regretted her outburst, and was surprised when the clerk said, "I
have the perfect arrangement for you."

Then the bell on the door rang, and the clerk greeted the new customer,

"Hi, Barbara, let me get your order." She excused herself and walked
back to a small workroom, then quickly reappeared, carrying an
arrangement of greenery, bows, and what appeared to be long-stemmed
thorny roses. Except the ends of the rose stems were neatly snipped;
there were no flowers.

"Do you want these in a box?" asked the clerk. Sandra watched - was this
a joke? Who would want rose stems with no flowers! She waited for
laughter, but neither woman laughed.

"Yes, please," Barbara replied with an appreciative smile. "You'd think
after three years of getting the special, I wouldn't be so moved by its
significance, but I can feel it right here, all over again," she said,
as she gently tapped her chest.

Sandra stammered, "Ah, that lady just left with . . . uh . . . she left
with no flowers!"

"That's right," said the clerk. "I cut off the flowers. That's the
'Special'. I call it the Christmas Thorns Bouquet. Barbara came into
the shop three years ago, feeling much as you do today," explained the
clerk. "She thought she had very little to be thankful for. She had just
lost her father to cancer; the family business was failing; her son had
gotten into drugs; and she was facing major surgery. That same year I
had lost my husband," continued the clerk. "For the first time in my
life, I had to spend the holidays alone. I had no children, no husband,
no family nearby, and too much debt to allow any travel."

"So what did you do?" asked Sandra.

"I learned to be thankful for thorns," answered the clerk quietly. "I've
always thanked God for the good things in my life and I never questioned
Him why those good things happened to me, but when the bad stuff hit, I
cried out, 'Why? Why me?!' It took time for me to learn that the dark
times are important to our faith! I have always enjoyed the 'flowers' of
my life, but it took the thorns to show me the beauty of God's comfort!
You know, the Bible says that God comforts us when we're afflicted, and
from His consolation we learn to comfort others."

Sandra sucked in her breath, as she thought about what her friend had
tried to tell her. "I guess the truth is I don't want comfort. I've lost
a baby and I'm angry with God."

"I don't know if I can be thankful for the thorns in my life" Sandra
said to the clerk. "It's all too . . . fresh."

"Well," the clerk replied carefully, "my experience has shown me that
the thorns make the roses more precious. We treasure God's providential
care more during trouble than at any other time. Remember that it was a
crown of thorns that Jesus wore so we might know His love. Don't resent
the thorns."

"I'll take those twelve long-stemmed thorns, please," she managed to
choke out. "What do I owe you?"

"Nothing! Nothing but a promise to allow God to heal your heart! The
first year's arrangement is always on me."

The clerk smiled and handed a card to Sandra. "I'll attach this card to
your arrangement, but maybe you would like to read it first."

It read:

"My God, I have never thanked You for my thorns. I have thanked You a
thousand times for my roses, but never once for my thorns. Teach me the
glory of the cross I bear; teach me the value of my thorns. Show me that
I have climbed closer to You along the path of pain. Show me that,
through my tears, the colors of Your rainbow look much more brilliant."

Praise Him for the roses; thank Him for the thorns.

God Bless all of you. Be thankful for all that the Lord does for you.
"Live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly, and leave the
rest to God."