Flower Recognition

Last year at this time Texas was suffering one of the worst droughts in history. Couple that with 50-60 mph wind, and we were ripe for disaster. It came in the form of frightening and destructive fires. I live in a town north of one of the most beautiful and dramatic areas of North Texas, Possum Kingdom Lake. There were several fires that surrounded the lake and threatened our town. We could see the fire jump from treetop to treetop on the other side of the Brazos River near where we live. We were ready to evacuate if the call came, because if the fire jumped the Brazos, there was nothing to stop it from coming straight for us. We felt terrorized.

That was then, this is now. North Texas has enjoyed one of the wettest winters in some time. Lake Graham is full, and so are the stock tanks. We are enjoying a bumper crop of Texas wildflowers, especially bluebonnets. There are few sights in nature as gorgeous as a thick stand of bluebonnets. The Texas wildflowers are a natural treasure, and they are exceptionally beautiful this year.

If the wildflowers are growing rapidly and thick, so is the grass. It’s growing so fast that we could easily mow twice a week. The problem with my mowing is that I don’t seem to be able to distinguish between grass, weed, and flower. If it’s green, tall, and in the middle of the yard, it’s fair game. So, how do I determine what is grass or flower? If my wife gets upset, I’ve mowed a flower. That’s the only sure way to know.

My dilemma reminds me of the field hand who noticed some very noxious weeds growing among the wheat. He went to the owner of the land and reported the problem. He wanted to know if he should get out the Roundup or weeding hoe and take care of those poisonous weeds growing along with the wheat. The owner told him to let everything grow together until the harvest, and then they would be able to separate one from the other. Christians will recognize this as one of Jesus’ parables, the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares.

Parables are not fables or morality tales. They don’t make a point as much as invite dialogue about life and the faith that makes life something more than a tale told by an idiot. One of the takeaways from this parable for me is how we deal with the offensive in our midst, whether it’s person, idea, behavior, or attitude. The owner counsels patience so that the good is not destroyed in our attempt to eliminate the evil. In particular when we are dealing with judgments against one of God’s people, we need to be careful about excluding that which God will ultimately include. If we attempt to root out the weed, we may end up cutting down a perfectly gorgeous wildflower that has yet to go to seed. God will be upset.

People are so quick to judge each other before we even know the other. We act on impressions, reputation, association, looks, manner, and any other host of incomplete pieces of information. In so doing, we may miss one of God’s incomparably beautiful creations.

I remember a plane ride I took several years ago. The plane was full, and I was wondering who would sit next to me. Then I noticed this rather unruly looking fellow careening down the aisle, and I just knew he was my seat mate. His shirt was wrinkled and nearly out of his trousers. His hair looked like it hadn’t been combed in a week. He wore thick glasses, and had a seemingly deranged look about him. As we arrived at DFW airport, I started our first conversation. It seems he was a scientist working in one of the high-tech industries in Austin, TX. And his grandmother was Lillian Hellman, a prize winning playwright. He was a very bright guy, and I missed the opportunity for a really terrific conversation because I made a judgment too quickly.

Drought, wildfires, and evil threaten all of us from time to time. Patience, taking the long view, and trusting in God’s providence are our only hope. Acting rashly and aggressively may cause us to miss the new thing God is doing. Hope is not wishing God will make a particular thing happen, but it is knowing that whatever happens is God’s wish. God bless you!