John 15:13 says, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
But sometimes important Biblical concepts, like giving ourselves for others, are just that in our mind: concepts. Maybe this little story I wrote will help to make it a bit more vivid for us. It is called “The Flower’s Choice.”
As the pretty lady hovered over her, the flower in the field knew she had a decision to make.
This field had been home to her, and to others before her, for as long as anyone could remember. Each day the sun would rise over the nearby mountains, and the rays would illuminate the dew on her petals. She would stretch, and open herself up to its warmth-giving rays. Shortly, the dew would be gone, the heat of the day would increase, and she would positively radiate beauty in the glow of the noon-day sun. Deer would wander nearby in the edge of the trees, wary, yet lovely.
Rabbits would hop by, and every now and then one of them would stop to sniff her fragrance.
Their pink noises made her giggle, and she was always happy to see them come, and even still happy as they hopped off into the distance. Can flowers smile and giggle? She did, quite regularly. You or I would never see it, mostly because we humans are busy, and don’t pay very close attention to small things and small sounds. And the giggle of a flower is indeed a small sound.
Things had always been this way, and as far as she was concerned, could stay that way forever.
But in the back of her mind, she had always known that it was possible that she could one day be what the older flowers called “picked.” Her Grandma Rose had warned her of it, as had her Grandpa, Dan D. Lion. “It’s painful,” they said, “and the only reason people do it is so they can take you home, put you in a vase, and admire your beauty for a while. If anyone ever tries to pick you, get as stiff and prickly as you can, and hold on for dear root.”
One day, though, flower asked a question of them. “Is it really so bad to be picked? After all, no one out here will ever know how pretty we look, and how sweet we smell.”
If you have never heard all of the foliage in a field gasp at the same time, let me assure you that it is quite amazing. It sounds much like a wind rushing through in a hurry to go nowhere important. And the field, at the moment of flower’s comment, gasped in the most audible manner.
“Why child,” intoned a fern in the shade of a nearby tree, “to be picked means that you will only live for a few more days, instead of several weeks.”
“Furthermore,” came the deep bass voice of a low crawling vine, “you will be surrounded by human children and their dirty little fingers, rather than by all of the clean plants of the field.”
“Let’s hear no more talk of such nonsense, young lady,” said Grandma Rose. “You just do as you are told, and you will get to live days and days longer out here in the field.”
Flower remembered all of these things, she remembered them quite well. But now, as the hand of the pretty lady drew near, she was having trouble making up her mind how to respond. She had listened to the lady, and her children, as they had picknicked nearby. The lady had two children with her, a little boy, and a little girl. Flower was no expert on human children, having seen just a few of them come out into the field, but she knew enough to know that the little girl was sick.
Flowers do not know what the word “cancer” means, which the daughter had been asking her mother about. But they are quite smart enough to taste the sorrow in a mother’s tear, even though the pretty young mother was doing a good job being brave, and smiling for her daughter. Flower somehow knew that the little girl may not live long, unless something good happened to fix her.
As another salty tear dropped from the pretty lady’s eye onto Flower, she made up her mind at once. “If I can live several more weeks out here in the field,” she thought, “or just a few more days on a little girl’s bedside, let me choose the bedside. Who knows, maybe my fragrance will cheer her, and fix whatever is wrong. Maybe my beauty will brighten her day, and maybe she will be made well. One way or the other, to live a few days helping another seems to be far preferable to weeks thinking only of myself.”
And so it was, that, a few days later, a little girl was laid to rest, with a beautiful flower on her chest, and a smile on her face. And at the same moment in Heaven above, that same little girl, though no one could see it here, was dancing on golden streets, with a beautiful flower in her hair, and neither of them would ever die again.
Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, N.C., a widely traveled evangelist, and the author of several books. Dr. Wagner can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.