Isaiah 9:10 – The bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild with dressed stone; the fig trees have been felled, but we will replace them with cedars. (NIV)

Outside the window they stand: the single white rose and the half-dead tree. The tree was planted two years ago, as was the rose bush. For some reason, early this year the tree bloomed profusely, but then started to die. The rose bush, like the tree, bloomed early and flourished. Now they stand and struggle for survival.

Just over from these two struggling pieces of vegetation is a bird feeder, filled with seed, which attracts the vivid gold finch. The feathers of this bird are a mass of profuse colour. They bring joy to the garden.

There is such a difference in the two scenes. One is the light of true happiness, the other a picture of dying.

As I began to gather my thoughts together, the telephone rang. It was our son: "Could you baby-sit tomorrow night?"

"Sure," I replied, "What time?"

"Around six-thirty." There was a long pause. My son continued, "Steve is not well; they don't think he will make it through the night."

Steve is a friend that goes back to high school days. He contracted cancer about three years ago. He was in remission until just this spring, when he took a turn for the worse.

I didn't want to dwell on the downside, filled with gloom. So I looked out toward the tree and that single white rose. The tree can be replaced and the rose will hold on till tomorrow before the petals fall to the ground.

I had to focus on the brilliant colour of the bird to look beyond death and to see that all isn't sadness. I feel for my son and close friends; it is the first loss of someone their own age.

What a blessing we have, to look beyond death to the brilliance of light brought to us through the blood of Christ, to look beyond death to where there is life filled with joy for all who toil and struggle to the end!

Three weeks ago, Steve was called to be with the Lord. No more single white rose; no half-dead tree. Just a time to look forward into eternity.

Romans 12:12 – Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. (NIV)

Prayer: Lord God almighty, we come to You with grateful hearts. You have been with us through the time spent in the garden with the single white rose and that half-dead tree. We thank You that through Jesus we know that we will have the happiness on the other side of the garden, in Your kingdom set for eternity. Amen.

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Anne Russell <>
Brampton, Ontario, Canada

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