I need to prune my rose bushes today. I should have done it three weeks ago, but better late than never.
I love roses; they are so beautiful all summer long. But along with the beautiful roses come a lot of thorns. Some of my bushes have more thorns than others. There is one bush in particular that requires some serious gloves to prune because there are huge thorns on all the branches, but it produces lovely red roses. It’s my only red rose bush.
I could skip the annual major pruning. I could also decide not to dead head the spent roses throughout the summer. That would allow me to avoid being poked or scratched by thorns, which is inevitable. (I’ve tried to prune and avoid the thorns, but it just doesn’t work.) But if I did that, the bushes would not produce nearly as many roses this summer.
As I think about the roses and the thorns, it reminds me of so many things in life. Often we have to put up with life’s thorns in order to enjoy its roses. We can avoid the thorns if we really try, but at what cost? What blessings would we miss? The trick is to focus on the roses and not the thorns.
Jesus once told a parable of a farmer who sows seed, the seed in the story representing the message of God’s love. One of the four places the seed is sown is among the thorns, and the thorns grow up and choke out the message. “The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.” Matthew 13:22. This is the person who focuses on the thorns in life, and misses the blessings and beauty that God provides in the roses.
So today, when you encounter thorns, look beyond them to the beauty that they might otherwise conceal. You may not be able to completely avoid the thorns, but you don’t have to let them rule your life.
Now I better go prune those roses!