I USED to live across the road from a widower in his eighties. He was very frail,
I USED to live across the road from a widower in his eighties. He was very frail, so generally needed a lot of help, but he still loved to get out into his garden.
One day, he came outside, sat quietly and surveyed a rose bush which looked in need of some tender loving care.
Slowly, he clipped away the dead heads of roses, snipped off damaged and sick leaves, here some blackspot, there a bit of mildew. All the dross went into his bucket.
The rose began to take on a new lease of life as he gazed, considered and clipped away the parts no longer any good to the bush.
I watched him examine, then cut out a stem that had reverted to the wild.
After a while he carefully banked up some good earth around the rose, then got up slowly and watered the rose before carrying away the bucket of dead and decaying, useless bits and leaving the rose to begin the process of new and vibrant growth.
Is this a gardening lesson? Yes and no.
As the man worked, I could see the Christ in him. Christ clipping away at the dead and useless parts in us, cutting off the bits that sap our real growth, and placing the fertile earth back around our roots, feeding us in the form of His precious Word, and sprinkling us with His living water, to grow fresh and renewed in His love. Here was Christ at work in us.
Watching that scene, I realised all this is being done to and in each one of us — all we have to do is to permit it.
The grace of God through the risen Christ awesomely brings about new life and spiritual growth.
As the old gardener, in his powerlessness, accepted the help of his caregivers, so he also tended his roses so those who see them benefit from their beauty.
With that same love and tenderness Jesus cares and tends for us, offering everyone life in Him for eternity. For those who accept and depend on Christ, that redemption is ours to receive.