FENTON, MI – I recently returned from a visit to the UP to connect with some pastors and their families. I always return home with a renewed gratitude for these men and women who are doing the Kingdom’s work in a place that at times proves to be difficult. Copious amounts of snow and vast distances can be isolating and treacherous, but the rewards are beyond value.
During these treks to the northern parts of our state, I am reminded of how much hunting, fishing and outdoor life is so prevalent. I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that 95% of the population is involved in and passionate about some lifestyle that involves outdoor recreational sporting.
Being reared in West Texas I have done my fair share of hunting, fishing and outdoor living. As I have grown older and time constraints of my ministry have limited my abilities, hunting and fishing have diminished. I still love the outdoors and getting out in the woods, but my motivation is altogether different now.
One of the pastimes that I took up in Florida and still love, is growing roses. Here in Michigan, it is not as easy as in the more Southern regions. For some reason, roses don’t like sub-zero weather. My love for rose gardening is a passion and trait that has been passed on to me from my grandfather, who has long since gone home to be with our Lord. He was a wonderful gardener, and had the responsibility of caring for the gardens of our local hospital. His rose garden, located in the courtyard of the hospital, was a retreat for the ill and well alike. It is this writer’s opinion that Granddad’s handiwork was responsible for a great deal of the healing that went on within those walls.
Many times when I would visit him at work, I would see several patients walking through or just sitting in the midst of his gardens. At one time, I had over 30 different rose plants in my garden in Florida. They varied in type and style. Some were Tea Roses, Old Garden or Antique, Flora Grande, Floribunda, and Climbers. All of them were different, and each had unique characteristics. Some were very fragrant with sweet traditional scents while others had a more pungent perfume. Others were beautiful in shape and color yet were almost lacking in fragrance, but each could boast a particular attribute.
I have come to understand what one old roseman told me some years ago when I began to try my hand at these scented beauties. “Roses are like children; they require a lot of time and attention.” No truer words were ever spoken. I remember one summer that was one of my more hectic seasons. I didn’t know if I was coming or going on most days, and as a result my “bedded children” were neglected. “Black Spot” attacked with a vengeance as did aphids, and of course, the dreaded “dollar weed” entrenched itself and covered every bed. When I could find a spare moment, I would quickly spray with fungicide and insecticide, but irreparable damage was already done. I lost quite a bit of foliage and some blooms, but for the most part they survived.
The biggest obstacle I faced was those dumb “dollar weeds” because they were so difficult and time consuming to remove. So, in order to save time and effort, I mixed up a batch of systemic herbicide and carefully sprayed the infestation. Within a matter of days, the interlopers were dying or dead. I was happy and satisfied that I had taken care of the problem. It was not until the next week that I realized what had happened when leaf after leaf began to drop from my roses. The buds began to shrivel and die before maturing. Inch by inch, I watched hopelessly and helplessly as one by one, nine of my prized plants withered and died. My impatience and lack of attention had taken its toll. I had taken the easy way out, and was now suffering the consequences. Early that next Spring I replaced the dead plants with new ones. They did not produce at the same level as the previous plants for a few years, but at least I had the opportunity to begin again.
I wish that were true with our children, but the fact of the matter is that we have only one chance with rearing them, and vary rarely do we have the opportunity to correct our mistakes. If we neglect to give our children the proper attention they need when they are young, and we do not put forth the effort to properly care for them, then we will suffer the ravages of our negligent actions. We must daily care for their needs, and make sure that the encroaching weeds of life do not get a stronghold that requires exhaustive labor and inordinate time to remove. Children don’t need big homes, new cars, designer clothes and large bank accounts. They need you and a warm, comfortable, loving climate that nurtures and nourishes them on a daily basis. Take care of them now, and they will provide a sweet fragrance to all who encounter them for ages to come.
"Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6 NASB)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tim Patterson is Executive Director/Treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Elected unanimously in May of 2015, Patterson formerly served for 9 years as pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla. He also served as trustee chair and national mobilizer for the North American Mission Board.