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The Gift of Needful Things

Thursday, March 28, 2024 @ 09:09 AM The Gift of Needful Things Joy Lucius The Stand Writer MORE

Yellow tulips – in the middle of January. That’s the gift my oldest son brought me on one of the coldest nights of the year.

I know that you’re all thinking, “How sweet!” But hold on and let me describe those yellow tulips a little more for you. Better yet, let me first explain what it’s like being a boy mom for over 40 years.

Both of my boys knew they could depend on their parents for everything they needed as children. Praise God! They never went to bed hungry or cold or wondering where their mom or dad was.

They were always safe and secure, and they knew they were loved beyond measure. They heard those words of love come out of my mouth and my husband’s every single day. And they saw our love for them in action. Of that, they have testified over and over again.

Both boys understood that we were a united front in love and discipline. But they also knew that Randy and I were totally different in our individual approach to parenting – and to life.

Likewise, our sons were very different in their individual approach to life, and as such, they each brought us very distinctive and different gifts and offerings of love.

Our youngest son Chris always brought home animals of every kind.

We once sent him with friends to Cherokee, Alabama, for a weekend coon hunt festival near the famous Key Underwood Coon Dog Cemetery.

Now, I knew enough about my child’s love of dogs to only give him $40 in spending money, plenty for a 13-year-old kid – yet not enough for the purchase of a coon dog of any kind.

But alas, Chris managed to come home with not one, but two coonhounds. One was an ornery Redbone that had made its owner mad for the very last time. He sold him to Chris for all the money he had left in his pocket – $25, I think.

Then, on the way out to the car to head home, a man was loading up some Black and Tan puppies (Chris’ lifelong favorite breed of coonhounds) that he had not managed to sell. Of course, Chris remarked on how beautiful the pups were and wished aloud for one. The man handed the last female to Chris with a smile and told him to take care of her.

So, Chris Lucius brought home two dogs (with pedigrees and papers) and a few other hunting trinkets, all from the small sum of cash he had taken with him. (There’s a whole other lesson here on a child who tithed consistently from the time he was four until the day he died last summer.)

Yep! Two dogs for only $25.

We simply sighed, smiled, and bought a little more dog food. Because, as his parents, we learned early on that his love of dogs was just a part of who Chris was – and who he would always be.

Throughout his life, he would often bring home needful animals. Sometimes, they stayed just for a few weeks until he found the animals another home. Sometimes, those animals were ours for a lifetime. And sometimes, the animals had an emergency need of healing and help. So, we did our share of doctoring through the years.

One dog even crawled to our house after some type of attack from another animal. It was as if she just knew where Chris lived and came for help. That poor puppy was almost dead, and I honestly doubted she would make it through the night. But Chris declared she would live and called her Lazurus, for good measure.

So, Chris and I loved-on the dog, called her by her new name, kept her warm, and fed her sips of water. And early the next morning, we carried her to a vet where it made a full recovery. One of the vet students there took Lazurus home with her, and the pup lived a long, happy life as the mascot of the vet’s office, welcoming other animals that came through the doors.

Yes, those were the kind of needful gifts Chris brought us with complete faith that his momma and daddy would help each and every sick and needy animal he brought into our presence. And we did!

His brother Jacob, our oldest son, also brought us his share of needful presents through the years, usually flowers, plants, and even trees.

But lately, since Chris’ death in June, Jacob’s gifts to me have been more frequent, especially flowers – like those yellow tulips in the middle of January.

But here’s the catch. Jacob works at a grocery store that sells plants and flowers. And like his brother, Jacob has a tender heart, and he cannot bear it when the store marks down the wilting, dropping flowers. He buys them and brings them home to me – to revive!

“I saw this bouquet of roses, Momma,” he often says with a smile. “I thought of you. They just looked so sad, and I knew you could fix them right up.”

So, I do!

I trim their stems, remove the brown leaves, snip off any dead blossoms, and put them in a beautiful vase with warm water and some plant food. And the results are amazing! Within a few hours, those dying flowers look brand new. They also stay beautiful for days, all because of a little tender love and care.

This flower revival process has become something of a ritual for Jacob and me over the past grief-filled months. I love it, knowing that he thinks I can bring new life to those failing flowers. And I love the beautiful blossoms I get to enjoy as a bonus.

After all, there is nothing more precious than a little boy bringing his mother flowers, even when that little boy is a grown man with a son of his own.

But those yellow tulips were a whole different story.

When Jacob came through the door with a gigantic bundle of them, I shook my head. They looked beyond help.

“Can you believe it? They were just throwing these away,” he said indignantly. “I couldn’t stand it! I told them that my momma would take care of them. So, they gave me all of them!”

He handed me those yellow tulips with the sweetest smile and the same confidence his brother Chris had that night long ago when Lazarus came crawling up to our door on the brink of death.

So, even though he saw the doubtful look on my face, I already knew the only correct answer: “These are so pretty, Jacob! What a beautiful, springtime gift here in the heart of winter.”

Jacob smiled even wider and asked hesitantly, “Are you sure you can help them?”

“I can certainly try!” I hugged him and assured him as he left me with my gift of needful tulips.

But as I pulled the cellophane from the tulips, my heart sank. I had never seen such a mess. Not only were the yellow blossoms drooping and dying, but their stems were also molded and slimy in places. It seemed impossible for them to survive another day.

“They kind of look like me, don’t they, Jesus?” I remarked with tears in my eyes and sadness in my heart.

Then I directed my comments to the tulips: “Poor flowers! It’s alright. Most days, I’m not sure I can make it either.”

For the next several minutes, I prayed as I tended to those dying tulips. I cleaned them and doctored them as best I could. But the more I worked on them, the more I prayed – and cried.

Those tulips were truly a metaphor for my weary, lonesome Momma’s heart. Here I stood in the depths of my grief and despair in the darkest days of winter, and I could not even begin to hope for the dawn of Spring and new life … or could I?

Did God not promise me that He would comfort me in my sorrow and even turn my mourning into dancing? Did His Word not assure me that He’s close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit? He even reminds me in the last chapter of the Bible that one day, He will personally wipe away my tears forevermore. He loves me! And He loves both of my boys, the one in Heaven and the one who brought me these yellow tulips in need of hope and healing.

In fact, in Luke 12:27-28, the Bible says,

Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you (NLT).

“Alright, little tulips,” I concluded as I wiped my eyes and placed the yellow flowers in a beautiful, antique porcelain vase of blue and white, “God cares for me and for you. So, we can do this! We can lift up our heads and live.”

And so, they did.

Despite the freezing temperatures of January, those pitiful tulips bloomed and thrived for days, with tiny buds blossoming into full-fledged yellow beauties. In fact, it was almost impossible to imagine how close to dying (and the garbage dump) those beautiful tulips had been.

Jacob was not surprised. He expected nothing less from his momma.

But I was amazed. And a little ashamed. For I had forgotten that just as throughout their entire lives, my children brought me and my husband their broken treasures for mending, I can do the same thing with my heavenly Father.  

I had forgotten to bring my mournful, grieving heart right to His feet and leave it there with the absolute faith of a child – knowing that bleeding, injured puppy dogs and moldy, wilted tulips are no different than my broken, battered, and aching heart – in the hands of our good, good God.

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