There is a country song titled, “I Didn’t Promise You A Rose Garden” which emphasizes that a Rose garden is all beauty and peace and that real life and relationships may not measure up. As I have gone through several seasons of trying to maintain the kind of rose bushes that grown in my garden, rarely more than four a season, my observations are that rose gardens may be more like real life than the song imagines. I have spent a lot of time being pricked by the thorns as I have mulched, fertilized, trimmed, watered, clipped the spent blooms, and fought the black spot, yellow leaves. Did I mention the thorns!

Just this week, as I was sweltering in the 96 degree summer sun doing my mid-summer trimming as the sweat dripping on the inside of the lenses of my glasses, this tune entered my consciousness and God spoke to me. He said:

Melvin (mankind) I DO give my people rose gardens, you will all experience pricking thorns and dry, depleted soil; you will have to prepare to live through the cold days of winter and the hot days of summer. Your roots and stems will need feeding and watering. Old buds will need trimming; limbs will need pruning. There will be thorns that you often don’t see, but feel. But if you maintain your rose garden it will produce, and if you maintain it well, it will yield a beautiful show of fragrant beautiful roses, just like your life.

I finished confident Heaven will be full of beautiful, fragrant blooms, and I don’t really mind a few pricks and an occasional sweat while dwelling on this earth.

I then came into the house for a tomato sandwich lunch and composed this Rose Garden parable. As I cut a slice of German Johnson tomato plucked from the garden next to my roses I considered writing a country song about “White Bread, Mayonnaise and Fresh Tomatoes,” but lost inspiration. Then on second thought I mentally muttered that German Johnson tomatoes have got to be the ugliest tomato. Yet, as I continued slicing and peeling and then eating those ugly Tomatoes, I realized that they may be ugly in their skin and wrinkles they taste as if they are beautiful. My conclusion was that “UGLY IS ONLY SKIN DEEP”. Which brought up the better known saying of ‘BEAUTY IS ONLY SKIN DEEP”.

I came away from my garden and lunch table encouraged that God does promise us a Rose garden and that He sees the beauty of our soul underneath the beautiful and ugly things we do.

M. H.

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