Roses are my favorite flowers. I love to look at them, smell them, display them, and especially – I love to grow them. I inherited the interest in roses from my mother, who, as early as I can remember, always had a beautiful rose garden that she pampered and enjoyed. Since she passed away, the roses I have are even more special.
One day I noticed that one of my rose bushes was beginning to droop. Being a hot day, I just watered it deeply and didn’t think much more about it. Several days later I noticed it again – it was almost dead! I examined it more closely and when I wiggled it, it came right out of the ground! To my amazement, it was just a stump with no roots – a greedy gopher had devoured them, leaving behind only his teeth marks on the base of the plant.
Though the plant looked good right up until the end, the truth was, the roots were disappearing beneath the surface. I’m sure you can see the application. How many of us are going so hard in ministry that we are neglecting the roots that give us the life-giving nourishment? It seems like I run in to more and more leaders who are pushing the limits – some who, as a result, are facing problems with health, family and joy in ministry.
In 2 Chronicles 26 we read that Uzziah was appointed King at age 16. Despite his youthfulness, Scripture says, “As long as he sought the Lord, God gave him success." Then, verse 16 reveals that “after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall.” He became disobedient, unfaithful and unteachable. God allowed him to become afflicted him with leprosy and isolated. He removed him from influence in the temple and replaced him with his son, Jotham – who, “grew powerful because he walked steadfastly before the Lord his God” (2 Chron 17:6).
Are you and I seeking the Lord as we need to for our direction and strength in ministry? Are we allowing things to nibble away at the source of our creativity and power? Do we even notice the signs of “wilting”? Or, do we just chug along, thinking we can crank out “just one more,” only to find out too late that we are allowing serious harm to our lives and ministries?
I’ve had good success with roses when I ensured that they got the sun, nutrients, air and water that they needed. But I learned that I failed to provide enough protection. (Now I put a wire cage around the root ball.)
There are parallels in our spiritual lives, but the only effective solution is to seek the Lord for his provision of all those elements – and more! Check out a few of the Scriptures that have shed light on this for me. (1 Chron. 16:10-11, 22:19, 2 Chron. 20:3, Psalm 34:10, Prov. 28:5, Acts 16:16-17, 17:26-28).
Seeking the Lord is the only way we can hope to finish well, bearing fragrant and beautiful results that please God to the very end!