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Monday, October 3, 2016

Learning from the rose

If you abide in Me and My voice abides in you, anything you ask will come to pass for you.  Your abundant growth and your faithfulness as My followers will bring glory to the Father. (John 15:7-8 VOICE)

It dawned on me as I was out in the garden this weekend that a rose goes through various stages of growth, as does every plant in nature. I have never really seen a rose seed, or at least I didn't think I had, until I realized those things called "hips" are really the pods for the seed of the rose. I had always thought roses were produced from cuttings taken from another bush and rooted. While this is true, the rose began as a seed, much like faith begins within each of us - tiny, almost imperceptible, and not too evident that it was even a seed because it was "concealed" a little under something else.

I wanted to know more about rose "seeds", because you don't find them packaged in the aisle at your local retailer most of the time, so it made me a little curious to know why we buy roses from "root stock" instead. It seems that the seed doesn't always bear the same characteristics of the plant from which it came. This is why the gardener who wishes to reproduce the similar flower as the mother plant takes a cutting to root - so the character traits of the mother will be reproduced in the next generation of rose. That got me to thinking about how some of our faith is from seed - with a unique character all of its own - while other faith within us is "inherited" from those who mentor us, helping us to get "rooted" in our walk.

Since the only reliable way to replicate the character traits of the parent rose is through this process of grafting or rooting, it made me think how God works with each of us as part of his garden. There is a purpose to where and how he "plants" each of us - because where we are rooted determines how well we will grow; where we are grafted will determine the strength of our growth. Roses sold as "bare root" are taken from their place of rooting when they are a full two years old - not sooner, because the growth of the root takes that long. The grade of a rooted rose is judged by the number of "canes" it has when taken from the soil where it was rooted. Those with 3 or more "canes" are considered the heartier stock. While those with less canes may live, those which have more canes actually reveal a healthier root system.

I wonder what God sees when he looks at our "canes" - does he see just a sprig of growth, or evidence that there has been a good "rooting" deep into the faith? The "surface evidence" often reveals much about the root below the surface - the more virtues we see evident "above the ground", the more we can trust there is a good root stock below the surface! Most gardeners tell you to plant the bare root roses before growth begins - before their is evidence of leaves and stems coming forth - to allow them to take root before the demands of rigorous growth take place. This lessens the impact of being put in new soil. We often don't realize we are having our faith expanded because we don't see evidence of growth externally yet, but trust me on this one - God is an expert at knowing exactly when our "canes" are just right for us to be transplanted and prepared for the next phase in our growth.

When springtime is upon us, the roses begin to send off shoots of growth, giving evidence of their strong root system. As with our roses, the faith rooting within us needs times of seeming "dormancy" and then seasons of rigorous growth. We could not produce the beauty of the rose without both. We will never produce the "hip" of new growth without first having the root system to bear the blossom of the rose!  Just sayin!