Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Rose of Sharon

Rose of Sharon
They are stately bushes, standing tall and full of sweet teacup size blushing pink and red blossoms.  Our neighbor has a row of them planted near our common fence, so we are able to enjoy the limbs that graciously droop over to say “Hi!”.   (It’s a Southern thing.)  So, we introduce ourselves and visit awhile.  She (Sharon) had many visitors already, some stopping by to admire, some to smell, some to taste.  Knowing women frequently multitask, I did not feel neglected in the least.  This is one of those bushes you want to have in the frame when you take a picture – just standing near them makes you feel pretty and special at the same time. 
I started out as an admirer of her beauty, then came a little closer when I caught a whiff of the gloriously sweet fragrance.   Chocolate pie in the oven couldn’t smell better.   No wonder the blossoms were abuzz and aflutter, all the neighborhood critters were drawn here perhaps by the beauty, but definitely by the aroma.   During the blooming season (all summer, here in the South) there is a continual ebb and flow of blooms opening, fading and being replaced with equally lovely and fragrant blooms. 
The purpose of the delightful smell, of course, is to welcome visitors and invite them in for a closer encounter.  The honey bees, ants, butterflies, bumblebees and hummingbirds were all focused on getting their fill.  I knew right away that Oscar would enjoy them, and we came back often for him to visit.  (Oscar is a story for another time – can hardly wait to tell you about him!) Although I didn’t personally take a sip, the number of happy customers tells me she has a plentiful and satisfying product.   
Here in my Father’s world, many things speak to His interactions with us, including this particular type bush.  You may remember the phrase “I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys” from the Song of Solomon.   This book is often described as a love story between the bridegroom (Christ) and His bride – the church-  and the word Sharon (Sharown) is literally a plain, and indicating a particular area of the Holy Land along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and an area east of the Jordan in the area of Gilead and Bashan.  (Strong’s Concordance #8289.)    

A closer look at the word gives even more insight. (You are going to love this!) The word Sharon is likely an abridged form of #3474 yashar (yaw-shar’) which is also translated; to please, straight, direct, right, well, fitted, good, make straight, meet, upright, uprightly.  It is used as; to be right, be straight, be level, be upright, be just, be lawful, be smooth.  Is that not a beautiful and perfect description of the church – the bride of Christ? Being pleasing, agreeable, straightforward and upright; helping to go straight, being made straight, making straight, to direct and lead straight along. 

Oh, the beauty of that picture when you see His relationship with Israel, with the church, and us individually.   “As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.   He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.”  Song of Solomon 2:3-4.

There will come a day;”  The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. 2 It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the LORD, and the excellency of our God. 3 Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. 4 Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you.”  Isaiah 35:1-4

We praise you our Father, Creator and Redeemer for the beautiful promises that we long to see fulfilled, yet we rest in the knowledge that You have made those promises, so we have no doubt of their fulfillment. We praise You for giving us this great hope for the future and for giving us such a great purpose here and now.  Thank You for strengthening our hands when we become weak and for standing with us so that we have no reason to fear.  Show us today how to stand tall and unashamed to abundantly bloom the gospel.  Help our speech and actions be full of sweetness and beauty, bearing Your fragrance and drawing people near to partake of the precious truth.