As a relief & development worker I documented some pretty sobering issues – child victims of war, ravages of HIV/AIDS, and injustices (mass graves inclusive) in conflict zones & places of poverty all over the world. After collecting flower photographs during my first posting in the Middle East, what began as a hobby (making cards out of flower pics) became something more, especially during the Kosovo relief program. Finding roses in the rubble and capturing them on film. Finding beauty – HOPE – in a disaster zone.
I love flowers – our Creator’s heavenly paintbrush splashing beauty around us. In Africa beautiful jacaranda trees lined a street near our main office. In December lavender flowers canopied in giant trees fluttered everywhere. It reminded me of elven Lothlorien in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. When I went on (& on) about the beauty of these trees, my African boss said, “the flowers mess up your windshield & make a mess all over your car!”
But, hey, they were still a beautiful, inspiring mess!
Sometimes our lives are filled with messy mistakes, failures and piles of rubble. But the thing about finding roses in rubble, you have to be looking for them. Sometimes they’re hiding behind our fears, insecurities, anger and bitterness. But God can do the impossible & He’s rather good at bringing good out of impossibly challenging circumstances.
Think of Joseph – thrown down a well and sold into slavery by his MEAN brothers. Never say it can’t get worse: he ended up in the rubble of an Egyptian prison (they are notoriously bad now – imagine what it must have been like 5,000 or so years ago?) Keeping the faith, however, years later he became the second most powerful man in Egypt and saved not only Jacob & his family but the whole region from starvation. Joseph became a powerfully strong rose amidst debilitatingly devastating rubble. As he later told his brothers, “what you meant for evil, God used for good.”
I know that God has grown roses out of my personal rubble in impossible-to-comprehend ways and those around me (especially my bed-fast quadriplegic Papa!) I’ve also met many living roses in rubble of conflict-zones who reflect the beauty of hope to shattered hearts and broken dreams around them. Their scarred blooms are filled with petals of faith, hope, peace and love as they exude the bitter-to-sweet scent of joy amidst suffering.
Living roses inspire us to be more of who we are meant to be: beloved sons and daughters of an Almighty Heavenly Father, regardless of whether we are pink, purple, red or yellow: we all come from the same human stem of life created in God’s image.
If you are bogged down looking at the rubble around you. Heads up! Look around…the sun still rises & the sun still sets (keeping those Heavenly paintbrushes busy…) If God clothes the flowers of the field so beautifully, will He not take care of us? Have faith…& COURAGE.
It takes courage to be a rose when rubble surrounds you!
“The Lord is my Light and my Salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid? One thing I desire, and that I will seek after: to behold the beauty of the Lord and inquire in His temple.” Ps. 27:1,4