Gather the Lilies
Just 3 months ago, I remember praying this prayer:
Why do I not feel joy Lord?
Why did you call me to a job that I would hate?
Where is the blessing and joy in your call to serve you. And why am I a nurse?
And I think we all feel that -- at one time or another in our lives-- that maybe God didn't lead us to a fertile valley, but a desolate mountain. That maybe God forgot about our joy?
And in this time I had to question Him.
Are you really a good loving Father to me?
I have a parable I want to share with you rephrased from Ellen White' s stories.
"One day a young girl visited the most beautiful mansion with a large, garden- abounding with daisies, lilies, and roses, and even the freshest of fruits. She first started enjoying the view, smelling the flowers, dancing in the beauty. When she fell captivated by a single rose amidst thorns off to the corner of the garden.
She decided to walk over and check it out. Gravitated toward the bush, she realized she didn't like it. She didn't like that thorn bush one bit. Looking the bush of thorns and death up and down, she lifted up her arm to grab the lonely red rose in the middle. But reaching up for the rose, her arm was cut on the thorns. She yelled out in pain cursing the garden. Trying again, she cut her finger and small drops of red blood formed in a puddle on the ground. "I hate this garden" she yelled.
The girl was full of anguish, pain, and frustration. She suddenly hated the garden and her whole life seemed to be covered in darkness as she only saw thorns everywhere. She cried out for help, and the Master Gardener ran to her side. Bandaging her hand, he quietly reprimanded her:
"Let the thorns alone, for they will only wound you. Gather the roses, the lilies, and the pinks." There is beauty to be found in this garden, but you have become trapped focusing on the negative. Why not spend time looking at the beautiful flowers and tasting the fruits?
This parable really touched me when I was struggling with a job I hated. My work became the biggest focus of my life and it began to take all areas of my life down with it. It seemed before I knew it, I was so bitter and angry about my work that the only thing I could talk about is how much I didn't like it.
Refusing to acknowledge, that I was part of the problem, I begged God to send me to a different job. And instead of telling me to change jobs, God told me to wait on Him. God sent support by friends into my life and encouragement in other ways. It was hard, totally hard, and difficult. But looking back now, I am so glad that I didn't quit in the midst of the difficulty. While my job is far from perfect, it is a place where I can learn to be more and like Jesus and it is a place where I can be a blessing to sick kids and their families. For me, there was a big change, when I chose to focus on the good things in my life and began to start thanking God for things- including my work.
Friends, it's so easy to be negative. It's easy to complain and get down- and trust me, it's a daily struggle. But God taught us to praise Him for a reason. How can we be light friends- if our world inside is too dark? How can we witness to the world if we are negative, depressed people? If we could learn to praise God- to focus on the beauty in life- He would bless us abundantly and give us a much deeper inner joy and peace.
Phillipians 4:8 says "Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things." Let's practice gathering the lilies, gathering the roses, and gathering the beautiful in our lives.