Upon moving into our house last summer (2015), we discovered that we had some “rose bushes” in the garden. At least, that’s what my mother told me. I had to trust her as she is an avid gardener, but these bushes simply looked like ugly, thorny brown sticks poking out of the ground, some of them obviously dead. Not an actual rose in sight. But according to my mother, if I just pruned them down, new blooms would appear the next year.
Somewhere early spring this year, I finally bought some pruning shears and gave them a good whack, without any hope of actual results. Spring turned into summer, and some of the cut stubs did indeed grow…into ugly, thorny green sticks. These sticks grew taller and taller but were still as barren as the Sahara. However, I took the green as a sign that life was pumping somewhere and felt a measure of satisfaction at my contribution to floriculture, lack of blossoms notwithstanding.
Then one day, upon closer inspection, I saw a few small bumps…baby buds!
When the first yellow petals finally unfurled weeks later, I was ecstatic. Pretty soon, I had three billowy, sunny blossoms on skinny stalks about five or six feet high off the ground. Technically speaking, it was probably one of the ugliest, most ill-named rose bushes to grace the earth. Any florist looking at it would probably be outraged. But to me, it was glorious! Every time I saw those blossoms, I would literally be filled with joy and delight. And even if these were the only three flowers to ever come out, I would still have counted it a worthwhile endeavour.
I know some will look at it and think, “What a shame. There should be thirty blossoms instead of three.” They will only see what’s missing, what’s wrong. I was at a conference with work recently and listened to a talk by this human nature guru. Basically, he had such an understanding of the human psyche and our motivations that he could “guess” what people were thinking. He demonstrated this with several David Blaine worthy mind tricks. One thing he said really struck a chord – human nature is much more strongly influenced by negativity than positivity.
I’ve also heard it described as the human bias towards negativity. We consider bad news more important than good news. We justify this attitude by saying it’s crucial to be aware of the bad so we can try to learn from it and avoid it in the future. But really all we do is end up focusing on the negative to the exclusion of the positive.
So instead of rejoicing in the three blossoms, we lament the thirty.
But what does God do? He searches for a lost sheep. He seeks a lost coin. He waits endlessly for a lost son. And when these are found, there are no reprimands, no contingency planning for a better future outcome next time. Just joy, thanks and celebration. This is God nature. This is how God sees us. Whether we are three blooms or thirty. Wonderful. Delightful. Worth waiting for.