“Be careful! Don’t touch that bush,” said Grandma as she brushed the snow off the path in front of them. Robert was careful to walk far around the bush his grandmother pointed to. His younger sister Rachel did the same. Long, sharp thorns grew out of every branch. Robert looked at the bush and shook his head.
“Grandma, why do you grow such an awful bush by your house?” he asked.
“Oh, it’s not awful!” Grandma exclaimed. “It’s a good bush, even if it looks pretty bad right now. Come in and I’ll show you.”
Robert and Rachel took off their hats and gloves inside Grandma’s kitchen. They heard the clink of metal and china as Grandma set cups and spoons on the table. Soon her teakettle was whistling.
“Here, you have some hot cocoa, and I’ll look for my photo albums.”
Robert and Rachel held their steaming cups and sipped the warm, sweet drinks.
Grandma came back with an armful of albums. “Let’s look at this one first.” She paged through a number of photographs. “Yes, here’s the one I was looking for.” It was a picture of her house in early summer.
“Wow. Sure looks different when all the flowers are in bloom,” Robert said. “Did you plant all these?”
“I did. And look at this bush by the door.”
“O-o-h-h-h. That’s pretty,” Rachel pointed at the bush. “It’s covered with red flowers!”
Robert looked at Grandma and smiled. “That’s that awful bush, isn’t it?”
“Sure is. It’s a rose bush. Not so awful, is it?”
Rachel shook her head. “No, it’s still awful. But pretty too.”
Grandma fingered her chin. “You may be right, Rachel. The thorns are always there, and very sharp. But when the roses come out—it’s gorgeous.”
“How can something be so good and so bad at the same time?” Robert asked.
Grandma thought a moment. “Well, we are!”
“We’re good and bad?” said Rachel.
“Yes,” Grandma explained. “We have an old man and a new man in us. We’re new creatures in Christ, but we still have to battle the old thorns of sin in us. So this is not so strange.”
Robert studied the photograph some more. The rose bush was indeed beautiful, but those thorns he saw outside looked mean. Hmm…. He’d rather be like the bush in bloom when the thorns didn’t show so much. And maybe—in heaven—those thorns would be all gone.
Yes, he thought, they surely would be.