“Even the wilderness will rejoice in those days. The desert will blossom with flowers.” Isaiah 35:1 NLT
At a church I attended for many years, I used to think of people as different kinds of flowers. The pastor's son, for example, was a third generation minister with praying grandparents, raised in a comfortable home with parents who knew the Lord, had a strong marriage and were devoted to loving their family. He reminded me of a hot-house orchid – an unusual exotic plant, raised in more or less ideal conditions, with lots of tender care and protection from the elements.
My own upbringing included many advantages: hard-working parents, financial stability and high quality education. We attended church and learned moral values, but the emotional climate of our household was stormy at times, and God seemed very far away and uninvolved in my daily life. Compare that to an outdoor garden, which is exposed to weather and tended erratically - things grow, but not always with a healthy balance of nourishment, sunlight, water, protection, etc.
When my kids were growing up, they made friends in the neighborhood whose mothers had multiple children by different men - some didn't know who their father was; some families were on welfare, or their siblings were in trouble with the law. After my husband left us, I used to tell my children, "You're a flower, not a weed" - in other words, I care about how you turn out. We'd bring their friends with us to church to learn about God's Love - first in my minivan, then in the 25-seat church van, and eventually this became a ministry outreach that filled two school buses with kids whose parents didn't bring them to church (although we visited homes on Saturdays and talked with their parents, too). Some of these children seemed like wildflowers in a vacant lot, windblown and pushing their way through dry hard ground, surrounded by garbage and only the barest necessities of "growing up."
Now, don’t get me wrong - no one has a perfect life, and we all go through trials along the way to becoming who God created us to be. The pastor’s son was constantly on display and being evaluated by high spiritual standards; yet I remember how much he admired my boldness to go out and knock on doors to visit and offer to pray with families of the “bus kids.” We all have our strengths and weaknesses, our special gifts and our challenges. As his very wise grandmother used to say, “Everyone, if we only knew it, has pretty much all they can stand.”
The “church kids” and "bus kids" had very different behavioral, emotional & spiritual issues. Sometimes it was a process for leaders and church members to adjust their style or set achievable goals, as we all learned to relate to people from different backgrounds. You can’t expect the same results from everyone, and God - who created both delicate flowers and dandelions – enjoys and appreciates each one of us. If the lesson of the Church is learning about God’s Love, then “church kids” need “bus kids,” and vice versa.
My pastor likes to say, “Behind every heart, there’s a history.” If we’re going to love people and help one another to grow, we need to understand that where we’ve come from and what we’ve been through affects how we give and receive love, as well as how we teach and learn the lessons God gives us.
And consider this: sometimes God plants wildflowers in places where nobody sees them but Him. There are children who may never accomplish anything that the world considers significant, yet God sees those people as beautiful, too.
Lord, help me to see as You see and love with Your Love.
"Who can be compared with the LORD our God, who is enthroned on high? Far below Him are the heavens and the earth. He stoops to look, and He lifts the poor from the dirt and the needy from the garbage dump. He sets them among princes, even the princes of his own people!" Psalm 113:5-8 NLT