Hello 2017: “Fresh Flowers”

It’s been a while since I’ve written… No formal “goodbye” to 2016. No clever “hello” to 2017. At least not in a timely way. The last time I published anything was shortly after I’d taken a still, slow, quiet day of solitude and prayer and soul-searching. It was that day that launched me into a season change, which brought me to where I am now. And I still wasn’t sure when I’d write again, or if I would…until this morning. 

This morning, when I was enjoying the beauty of fresh flowers brought over by friends and in a moment that seemed to stand still and stretch out wide God whispered “this is how much I love you.”

Last week we had friends over for dinner. They showed up with a beautiful bouquet of fresh flowers. I don’t often keep flowers in the house and wasn’t even sure if I had a vase (I found one). I awkwardly trimmed the stems with my not-so-sharp scissors and arranged the flowers as best I could, since its not something I do often. At the time, it simply seemed like a sweet gesture-but throughout the week, they grew on me. I loved waking up and seeing those flowers each morning. I loved the beauty they brought to our dining room. They became a staple in our home.

When I woke up yesterday and realized they had run their course, it broke my heart a little. I really loved those flowers. But I couldn’t keep them forever. They were only meant to last for a short season. I threw them out, cleaned out the vase, and left it drying in the sunlight on the counter. I decided that at some point this weekend I would make time to go buy more flowers, because now I know that I like having them around.

Barely an hour later the bell rang. New friends coming over for dinner. And to my surprise, showing up with bouquet in hand! The first flowers last week were a sweet surprise, but this time-my heart leaped! Because now I know how much I love fresh flowers, and I know what it feels like to have to throw them out when they’ve given all the beauty and enjoyment that they can…the joy these new flowers brought came from a deeper place. And this time I didn’t have to search for a vase. I grabbed the freshly clean one still drying on the counter, and the scissors that had now been sharpened. The trimming of stems and arranging of bouquets went faster this time around. As it turned out, this bunch of flowers was even bigger than the last. I needed to drag out a second vase to hold them all. Not one, but TWO bouquets this time? Two vases full of beauty and freshness. Two rooms that will be brightened and sweet-smelling.

When I woke up this morning and came downstairs, I went straight to the flowers. The blessing that I didn’t have to make time to go out and buy…but was instead brought right to my door. I breathed deeply, the sweet smell of roses filling the room. Sunlight bright on the petals of pink, yellow, red. And it was that moment-the few seconds that stepped outside of time, deep with grace-that a gentle voice said “This is how much I love you.”

Six years ago God brought me an unexpected gift, much like the first flowers. He brought me into ministry, into pastoring, into a season that I never planned or knew I would come to love so much. It grew on me, and it grew me. Much like the flowers I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it at first. It required gifts I didn’t know I had, skills that weren’t quite yet sharpened, and an arranging of things in my heart that ended up transforming everything about me.

When it was time for that season to come to a close, I mourned. I wept. I argued. I questioned. And finally, I surrendered.  That season had run its course. It had served its purpose in my life, and I had served my purpose in it. And much like the vase, God has cleaned some things out and has left me lovingly drying in the SONlight.

This morning I was reminded of what a gift I have been given. What it means to ENJOY this time and space. And in that, there is the whisper of promise. The promise of new and fresh bouquets. Ones that I won’t have to search for or go out and buy-but that will be brought to me. And when that time comes, the vase will be ready. And now that I know what I love and who I am, the joy and gratitude will be deeper. The scissors will be sharpened. The arranging will be quicker. And the blessing will be abundant. Overflowing. And will perhaps require that I pull out a second vase just to contain it all.

The new flowers may look different than the last ones. They may have a different color, different scent. But one thing will remain the same-the beauty, the joy…and the good Father who will enjoy them with me.

Hello 2017.

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