Once upon a time, there was a beautiful garden. The master gardener had carefully laid out every detail of the garden, interspersing different types of flowers and colors to create a magnificent, year-round display of breathtaking wonder that testified to his wisdom and care. The garden had roses and lilies and baby’s breath and daisies and so much more–too many flowers to name. And the gardener took care of each plant perfectly.
Now, the plants didn’t always like being taken care of. They didn’t like when the gardener pruned them. It hurt! They didn’t understand that they needed pruned in order to grow bigger and stronger.
...every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. John 15:2 (ESV)
Petal was one flower in this garden–a rose to be exact. She’d grown strong and sturdy under the gardener’s wise care. She was planted where she had to endure the heat of the sunlight all day. Unbeknownst to her, that’s what made her grow so strong and bear such sweet flowers.
But one day, Petal noticed another flower that grew in the shade. Why do I have to endure all this heat while that flower doesn’t? she wondered. Petal didn’t understand that different flowers need different amounts of sunlight to grow, but the gardener knew all that. Rather than trusting him, though, Petal managed to pull up her roots and move herself to a different part of the garden where she could hide in the shade too. Ah, this is nice! she thought. Yet soon she began wilting, and her leaves turned yellow. She wasn’t designed for the shade. The gardener lovingly picked her up and put her back in a sunny spot.
“Ah, my dear Petal,” he said as he moved her. “I need you to bloom where I put you. Won’t you trust me? I know just the pruning and conditions each of my plants need.”
Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” John 21:22
Another time Petal noticed a small lily growing near her. Such beautiful flowers that lily has, she thought to herself. I wish my petals looked more like hers. And she doesn’t have any thorns…and she’s so dainty! I’m not dainty at all. Petal began trying to shrink her large branches to be more like the lily’s and started opening up her flowers earlier, hoping they’d look more like a lily’s.
Petal didn’t realize that her attempts to look more like a lily meant she was no longer filling the role in the garden she’d been planted to fill. The gardener had placed her in the garden to grow tall and strong and form an elegant backdrop for the smaller plants, but instead she was cowering and shedding her beautiful petals early.
“Ah, my dear Petal,” the gardener said as he straightened back up her branches. “Each flower is different and special for a reason. Won’t you trust me?”
For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. Romans 12:4-8 (ESV)