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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Courageous and Contagious Faith

“But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed,
but of those who believe and are saved.”
Hebrews 10:39 NIV

Today I am excited because I am going to plant a rose garden! This rose garden is going to be a beautiful place for reflection. God continues to bring to my mind individuals who have unknowingly blessed me by their courageous faith. In my rose garden I want to plant a beautiful rose bush for each one of those remarkable people.

The design for this garden will be circular, symbolizing a continual faith that does not end even when attacked by the winds of adversity. The garden will have a bench for reflection. Each rose bush will be selected to reflect the life of the courageous person that has modeled faithfulness to me. This beautiful rose garden is intended to be a place where in the future when I feel mistreated or overcome with sorrow myself, I will come and sit and reflect remembering my Christian friends and loved ones, those who when their lives began to crumble they still trusted God for his sustaining grace and exhibited a faith in God that is both courageous and contagious.

One of the first rose bushes I will plant will be a beautiful peach rose for Kathy. In her forties she was struck down with cancer and battled this nightmare for many years. Kathy’s life ended at an early age, leaving a husband she loved and two sons. Her faith remained strong to the end. She prayed for healing that did not come, yet continued to trust the Healer in her long struggle with cancer.

Next to Kathy’s rose bush I want to plant a beautiful red rose that will signify the love that Rick had for Kathy. Rick was much too young to be a widower. It was agonizing for him to watch Kathy struggle with her pain and suffering. Yet he told me more than once that he found his strength in the Lord.

For my friend Pat, I will plant yellow roses to signify our friendship. Pat lost both her husband and her sixteen year old son in a tragic automobile accident. In her forties, Pat was left to raise two small girls alone. Pat told me that she would never be thankful for her loss but she was thankful to God for the person that she has become as a result.

For my friend Beth I will plant a miniature red rose bush. Beth is not very tall on the outside but on the inside she is becoming a giant of faith. Beth recently became a widow at an early age. Her husband died unexpectedly after what she believed to be a successful heart surgery. Beth was left with a family business to sell, financial concerns and a broken heart. After my last visit with her she was praising God for all of the many ways that God had provided for her during this time of loss and grieving.

Next I will plant a peaceful pure white rose bush for Dale. Dale suffered a brain tumor and as a result was eventually confined to a wheel chair and was living in a nursing home. Dale was very much aware of all he had lost. Yet he seemed to be at peace. He encouraged others, and always had a smile on his face or a funny story to tell. Before Dale died he had a deep hunger to see his Savior.

I am also planning to plant a beautiful delicate pink rose for Pam. Even though her marriage was in a seemingly miserable heap of sorrow, she was able to reach out to God and find strength to forgive and be faithful to her marriage vows. Because of her faithfulness, God has brought healing to her heart and to her marriage as well.

I must now be on the lookout for a very special rose. I want to find a bush whose branches gracefully bend to the ground. This bush will be for Kay. Kay is an amazing woman who has had numerous back surgeries and lives in constant pain. Kay walks stooped over with the help of a walker. For Kay, I am looking for a sweet smelling rose that will always remind me of Kay’s smiling face. Kay is in constant pain yet, never quits! She drives a car, attends Bible Study, sings in the choir, shops, goes to swim classes and always praises Jesus! The sweet aroma of Jesus is always being emitted from her life that is centered in Jesus.

I do not have time or space to tell the amazing stories of faithfulness exhibited by Ted and Barbara, Don and Betty, Earl and Carol, Sherrill, Vera, Phyllis, Anna, Karen, Lucille, Barb and Jim, Rex and Joyce, and Joe. I have by no means exhausted the list of all those who have been wonderful examples of faithfulness to me. But for lack of space I cannot mention everyone. But know that I will be planting a rosebush for each of them as well. This rose garden project is going to take me a lifetime as I continue to add new bushes. This garden will forever remain a place of beauty in the garden of my heart.

Through the example of others I have been strengthened and blessed by their faithfulness. I do not desire to bloom where they have been planted, but when my time comes to join them in the rose garden I pray that the God of all love, mercy and compassion will grant to me the same contagious courage to remain faithful.


1. Have you experienced or are you experiencing great loss?

2. Where are you in your struggle?

3. Do you choose to be bitter or better?

4. Do you know others who have lost a great deal yet somehow exhibit faithfulness to God and courage in their trial?

5. Do you find courage when you realize how faithful God is and has been to others?


Dear God,

I pray for all the people I know who are sinking in the sea of despair at this very moment in time. I pray that they will give you their anger, their questions, their pain and their sorrow. Help them to choose to embrace inner strength and peace that can come only from you. I am also praying that you will march before their eyes the lives of others who have walked faithfully and courageously holding tightly to your hand of sustaining grace. I pray that we who are in need will draw strength from these contagious examples of faith. Thank you for these amazing examples of faithfulness for it is by their example that you are being glorified!

In Your Son’s Name I Pray. Amen.