This past weekend I was on my own running some errands when I found myself at the intersection of Woodward Avenue and Pasadena. In itself there’s really nothing too spectacular about this location other than how drab and run down it looks compared to the rest of our beautiful city. In fact at this point it’s probably best known for what used to be there instead of what exists at this particular moment. More than likely you probably haven’t even locked in on where I’m describing until I remind you of the abandoned gas station that may have been a Conoco or a Citgo and eventually evolved into some generic Quik-E Mart before giving up the ghost.
I’m not sure what caught my attention, maybe it was the splash of red against the dull gray, but I found myself transfixed upon a spot along the curb. There amongst the knee high weeds and scraps of trash, is the prettiest of roses I’ve seen in quite a while. Now admittedly I don’t go around the city comparing one wild flower to the next, but there is something fascinating about this specific flower that has made a lasting impression. The sight of such life growing amongst such decay as if God had chosen that very spot to show the world how something beautiful can spring forth from something so ugly as an abandoned gas station parking lot.
As this image turned in my head, I thought about going by late one night when the traffic was down to a minimum and digging up those roses for my own. After all what a waste of such an awesome rose bush just sitting there collecting street dust and exhaust fumes all day. Then I was reminded of the Parable of the Weeds (Mathew 13:24-30) in which Jesus tells the story of the farmer whose enemies tried to ruin him by mixing weeds among his wheat crop. When the servants belonging to the farmer discovered what had occurred they were told not to separate the weeds from the wheat at that moment because “while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.”
Like that rose bush growing among the weeds, as Christians we should stand out amongst those around us. With a couple words and a handshake, it should be clear to all where our hearts lie and who we represent. We should be unafraid to stand tall among the weeds and shout the joys of a life lived for Christ. There should never be any doubt as to who we believe in, what our motives are, and what we have to offer those who have fallen beside the path and feel as if there is no hope in this world. As Christians we should also understand that there will be a time when our own motives are questioned and we will either be “set aside to be burned” or gathered into God’s home. I can’t speak for you, “but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15)