Summer brings many memories to the forefront of my mind and some of my favorite pastimes involved water. Whether a pool, lake or the beach…these places all brought refreshment and fun on those hot, lazy days. There were times of diving right in or assuming the cannonball position that soaked everyone standing around, but I’d usually start in the shallow end or the shore…getting my feet wet and my body adjusted to the coolness of the water compared to the sun on my back. Then slowly I’d head in farther, until I took that final plunge, submerging every bit of me and finding refreshment and relief from the heat of the day.
So too, with conversations. We typically start in the shallow end with simple questions like “How are you?” or “How has your week been?”. We gauge the “temperature” of the other person and their response as we try to think of a follow-up question. The problem is, if you are anything like me, it’s amazing how easy it can be to keep conversations in the shallow end of life…weather, food, national news…but never end up getting to the deep end where true conversational refreshment occurs. It’s not because we don’t want it, we just aren’t sure how to get there.
These last few weeks I’ve thought a lot about a really great suggestion I read in Growing Together by Melissa Kruger. Every week or two, her intern would ask Melissa for her rose, bud and thorn, figuratively speaking. The question is simple but the premise is deep and, if imitated, it just might send us straight to the deep end of conversations faster than we thought possible.
This is something sweet blooming in your life. A gift from the Lord. Something that you are thankful for, rejoicing in, or celebrating. When we get right down to it, especially for the believer, we have a garden full of roses. Singling out one seems mighty doable! Every good gift is from God, and the fruits of the Spirit create a basket of delight in our hearts as we are able to see with spiritual sight that the greatest of blessings are not physical, but spiritual. “Indeed, we have all received grace upon grace from His fullness” (John 1:16).
This is something that is not yet here but approaching. It could be a vacation, a day trip, or the birth of a child or grandbaby, and the expectations and excitement of what is to come is in the forefront of your mind. Or maybe it’s the start of a new job, a move, or the first year of college, and there is a bit of apprehension as you face the unknowns of what is to come. We all have things in our lives that we are waiting for…we all have our buds.
“Every rose has its thorns” and the Bible says that our lives will be filled with troubles. We live in a cursed world, still embodied in flesh. There will come a day when every tear is wiped away and thorns are no more…but till Heaven is our home, we will face days, months, and even years where grief and pain are never too far away. We all have “thorns” in our lives that inflict a level of hurt…many are just a scratch that stings, but some go deep into the core of who we are. In sharing those thorns with others, we are comforted by those who have been comforted by Christ. We are encouraged and built up, and we find God’s gift of rest in linking arms with others as they bear our burdens with us, pointing us to true rest in Jesus (Matthew 11:28-30).
We all have a rose, a bud and a thorn. In sharing and learning, we have the opportunity to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15). We have the opportunity to “taste and see that the Lord is good”, as well as observe “how happy is the person who takes refuge in Him”(Psalm 34:8) …even in the most difficult of circumstances. The quicker we plunge into the deep end in our conversations, I believe we will begin to comprehend, more and more, what is the length, width, height and depth of God’s love, as we see Him do above or beyond all that we could ask or imagine, through His power, in the lives of His kids so that He might be glorified (Ephesians 3:18-21)!
Let’s take the dive!
“For I have great joy and encouragement from your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother.” Philemon 7