A few weeks ago I planted flowers in the flower beds of our front yard. I choose two different types of flowers. Honestly, I don’t know their names. One type was white; one was red. I chose the white flowers because I used the same kind last year, and they flourished in the Texas sun. I chose the red flowers because they were pretty and contrasted with the white. I wanted a little variety.
The white flowers have established themselves just as I expected. They are hardy, healthy little plants, and I’m looking forward to them spreading out as the season progresses. But, the red flowers look pitiful. Several of the plants have completely shriveled up and died, some look sickly, and others have struggling, puny blooms. All of the time and effort I put into planting those once- pretty red flowers had gone to waste–or so I thought. God had another plan for my flower beds.
Yesterday evening, my twelve-year-old son made a bad choice in a discussion he and I were having. The choice he made was part of a sinful pattern that my husband and I have noticed in his life. My son’s sin grieved me, and as I woke this morning I prayed for him and for myself–that I would have wisdom to know how to confront him about it today. The Lord answered my prayer and gave me an idea. I ran off to my early-morning exercise class, and then I stopped by Home Depot. I picked up some flowers–exactly like the original white ones, except in pink and purple.
When I returned home, I left the flowers in the back of the van so that my son would not know I had them. Then, my husband and I sat down with our son at the kitchen table to speak with him regarding what had happened the night before. We discussed the sinful pattern we have noticed, Scripture that addresses the issue, and his need for repentance. Although we are grateful that our son received our confrontation respectfully, we know the sincerity of his repentance is ultimately a matter between him and the Lord.
I then told my son to follow me, and I led him to the flower beds in our front yard. I asked him, “Which of these flowers look healthy and strong?”
“The white,” he replied.
“How can you tell?”
“Well, they are growing, and they have flowers and good leaves. They just look good.”
“Which of these flowers are not doing well?” I then asked.
“The red ones.”
“How can you tell?”
“Some of them are all dried up and dead, and the others just don’t look good. Am I in trouble for the plants?! Mom, I’ve been watering them like I’m supposed to!” he exclaimed.
“No, don’t worry. You’re not in trouble for the plants,” I smiled and reassured him. ”But, you have made a good point. All of the flowers, the white and red, have been watered. They have all received the same sunshine, and they are all in the same type of soil. The problem is not with the water, soil, or sunshine. It’s with the plants. The red ones are not good plants. I should’ve never bought them.”
I went on. ”You see, honey, the white flowers are the good choices in your life. Good choices–choices to do what is right–are blessed and flourish. The red flowers are the sinful choices in your life. They are no good. No matter what other “spirituality” you surround them with, they are just no good. Sin is ugly, and it must be rooted out of your heart. Now, what I want you to do is remove every single red flower plant from the garden beds in the front yard. Take them out, and throw them away. As you take each one out of the ground, I want you to think how you must remove the sinful choices you have been making from your life and then pray for God’s forgiveness.”
“But, Mom, then those spaces will be empty!” he said.
“Don’t worry about that,” I said as I inwardly smiled. ”You just tell me when you have taken out the unhealthy plants.”
After awhile, my son came into the house and said politely, “I’m done, Mom.”
“Not quite. Come with me.”
I took him back to the flower beds. ”Honey, in the Bible when God tells us to ‘put off’ sin from our lives, He then tells us to ‘put on’ what is right instead. For example, the Bible says, ‘Let him who steals steal no longer, but rather let him work with his hands so that he can give to those in need.’ You need to put off your sinful choice, and begin putting on the opposite good choice. You need to remove the sin, and plant the opposite godly choice. So, in the back of the van are plenty of flowers–exactly like the healthy white ones we already have, but in different colors–and I want you to plant them where the red ones once were. As you plant each new flower, pray that God will make you a man of integrity in all you do and say.”
My son got busy, and soon all of the new flowers were planted. He was was happy with his work, and I thanked him. Some of plants were in the wrong places and unevenly positioned, but I decided not to correct that. Those things weren’t important; I didn’t want to distract from the importance of what he had done–removed “bad” flowers and planted “good” flowers in their place. I didn’t preach at him anymore, either. I just wanted to leave him with his own thoughts about the morning’s conversations and experience.
My husband and I are praying for our son, that the Lord would grow him to be a young man wholeheartedly devoted to Him. Please pray for our son, if you think of it. But, more importantly pray for the children and young people in your own life. Pray that God will give you great wisdom to teach them to be holy and to love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength.
This spring, maybe buy a few flowers to plant. Let at least one die, and then plant another.
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