Saturday, October 12, 2013

No Flowers

The Creator made us so.

Who of us doesn’t appreciate beauty – whether it is caught in salty, crashing waves on the sandy ocean shore, appreciated in the stillness of the mossy forest haven, traced in the flight of the wild, lofty eagle, or seen tucked in the soft, velvet petals of the deep-colored rose. He has made all things beautiful.

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Golden evening shadows fell as my sister’s first day of canvassing with NAPS (National Association for Prevention of Starvation) drew to a close. Young adults line up by a white van, ready to be dismissed from a fully day of door-to-door work in Orlando, Florida.

“Wait, just one more house- ” Amy gestured to one last building on an assigned street.
 Her friend and partner in canvassing matched Amy’s eager pace, eyes brightening. “Yes, we want to cover as many houses as we can.”
Now out of sight from the white van, the girls approached the house. Two clean-shaven young men stood standing shirtless on their back lawn, but the canvassers bravely proceeded with their survey.
 The men listened compliantly and gave a two-dollar donation to NAPS, but a gleam in their eyes made my intuitive sister uneasy and distrustful. 
Let’s get out of here, she thought to herself as Kristen and one of the men chatted and evening shadows continued to fall.
 Kirsten had begun sharing the love of Jesus with the strangers, but conversation eventually turned to other topics.
“See my beautiful flower?” she played with a blossom between her soft fingers. “A sweet older lady picked and gave it to me earlier.”
 The man paused, but spoke smoothly. “If you like picking flowers, why don’t you go with us to the other side of the house? A lot of flowers grow there. You may pick as many as you want.”
 “Oh Amy,” Kirsten turned to my sister, “would you like to do that and have a beautiful flower for yourself? I wouldn’t mind getting another.”
 She shook her head, fighting an urge to run. “No, I don't need a flower. The others are waiting for us back at the van, and we shouldn’t be keeping them waiting.”
 “Oh, that’s right,” she other girl was reminded. “Thank you so much though,” she turned back to the strangers.
 As they turned to leave, Amy urged Kirsten to jog to the van. It wasn’t until they were settled inside with the rest of their group that she let out a sigh of relief.
 “Darnell, let’s drive over to the last house we canvassed and see what flowers they have on the other side of their house, by the road,” Kirsten urged the driver and then turned to face the others behind her. “Girls, a guy down at that house said we could pick his flowers.”
 The others shared her love of beauty and readily assented to drive by the house from a different direction to see the “other side," but as the van slowly pulled by the familiar building and eyes gazed out of the glass windows, the group hushed into deep silence.
 Beyond a wooden gate that locked, stood a few tangled shrubs over uneven, overgrown grass that extended to the doorstep. There were no flowers.

 Sometimes our love of beauty leads us in the wrong direction. The prospect of brighter dreams, fulfilled hopes, and something better than we know can allure us from safety into the clutches of the evil one. That which should drive us into the arms of God, leads us down a different road because we choose the wrong path.

No matter how tempting, making the wrong choice to claim a cherished treasure will leave you in chains. Beyond a cold iron fence, a patch of thorny weeds extend to a prison cell where all is darkness. There are no flowers in Satan’s garden.