I’m sure reading this well known phrase as a title you finished the last word before I could physically type it. My Nana used to say this to me almost as much as, “Who licked the red off your candy?” It always tickled me.
By nature, I don’t like to stop or to dwell. I don’t like to smell things that have prickly thorns. So this phrase was always one that went in “one ear and out the other.” I can go all day with the Southern phrases but I know you didn’t come here for that. Well maybe you did and if so, CHEERS!
But Roses, they are so common. I think that’s why they used that flower. Their commonality, the fragrance they put off and their ability to “stop” you with their beauty would make sense. But this phrase didn’t originate from the South and actually came from an idiom in the 1960’s. An autobiography written by golfer, Walter Hagen, that said:
Don’t worry. Don’t hurry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.Walter Hagen, https://grammarist.com/idiom/stop-and-smell-the-roses/
I spent some time researching this phrase and it surprised me to how common this phrase is used but how little it is lived.
We have lovingly called our home Randall Riches because and it has fulfilled its name. It has been full of richness in memories, laughter, fellowship, and a sanctuary on some really, really hard days. It has been more importantly a location of rest, restoration, and hope.
Roses and Eliza Kate
Last Spring, during quarantine, after working in the morning we would take the girls out for what we coined “Vitamin D Hour” and spend that time picking up fallen acorns, raking dead leaves, and pulling the roots to prohibit overgrowth.
I dug up and trimmed five rose bushes, to the quick. I had done some light reading about roses and asked some questions about their health. I honestly thought I would dig them up at the end of the summer because they hadn’t bloomed, not a bulb. They looked so dry and well dead.
My five year old wouldn’t give up on them and kept watering them. Letting her be, we just dug and worked on the rest of our yard.
There was zero expectations. We just kept living our lives.
This Spring, my irises bloomed so beautifully and tucked right in the middle were two red ones we had never had before. If you want to read about why this is a big deal to me, you can do that on the post, bloom and grow. It was such a joyful surprise when they bloomed. I’ll show you what they looked like…
My next thought was wow, those roses look like sore eyes compared to the irises. Not even a week later, all five bushes had bloomed with more bulbs, more vibrancy, and more strength than ever. I walked out of Randall Riches this morning and the smell of roses was so strong it blew me away.
Their health had been restored. Their fragrance was sweet. Their beauty is breathtaking and I can’t help myself but stop and smell the roses everytime I walk by.
This was a product of Eliza Kate not giving up on these roses. She didn’t lose sight of their worth and she believed that with proper time and care they would be restored.
Restoration and the Rock
I could recount passage upon passage in my favorite book about restoration. But my mind quickly flipped to Peter, the disciple.The Lord had warned Peter that he would deny Him. Peter was offended by this and doubled down as if this was preposterous. The pressure may have caused the failure of Peter in Luke 22 but luckily that wasn’t the end of the story. While Peter denied the Lord to a group of people by a fire in a courtyard, three separate times, and then the deep remorse caused him to weep.
The story cuts off in Luke and you may think, well that’s the end of Peter, only to find that when Jesus returns from the resurrection, Peter in Luke 24, RUNS to the TOMB. He doesn’t walk, HE RUNS. I can just envision the speed of his feet carrying him faster, looking like Gumby running. When he gets to the tomb, he saw the linens laying there knowing Jesus had DEFEATED death. Just when you think the story is over. Peter is done, finito, he does a 180 and leaves the legacy of being the “rock” in the passages to come.
Peter is known for being the “rock” of the church and his name, Cephas, means that in Greek. If you are ever able to go to his Basillica, tucked front and center at Vatican City, it’s impressive as all get out to stand under the walls and ceilings dripping in gold. Pretty incredible when you remember that this building was memorialized after a fisherman. Jesus restored Peter’s purpose and gave him back value when he returned after His resurrection. In John 21, Jesus asked Peter to “feed His lambs” and “shepherd his sheep.” I’m sure that eye contact was intense. And the words that follow Peter in the rest of the gospels embody that charge.
Jesus could of written him off when his eyes probably were fixated on death and fear. Instead Jesus kept “watering.” He didn’t give up and because of that Peter “bloomed” into the most loyal follower. Because of that, I believe restoration to be the most beautiful analogy of the gospel. I believe that it happens. I think too often we quit in the hard and rip up all the work we’ve invested when maybe sometimes we just need to wait, water, and wait some more, trusting that He will allow restoration—just like these blooms surrounding Randall Riches.
Have we given up on ourselves? Have we given up on someone else? I’m so glad Jesus hasn’t and won’t give up on me. I rest my whole being in this and thank my five year old for teaching me that lesson.