A New Year Wish
I sent a New-Year wish to a friend
Who stood at the gate of life's morning hours,
And I breathed it thus: 'From beginning to end
May your path be strewn with flowers!'
But, as I thought of the words I chose,
I paused to ponder if it were well
To leave no place for a thorn in the rose
Of the fate I would foretell.
I sat down to wish my wish once more,
And the words to a nobler song were lined:
May thy path be covered from shore to shore
With the flowers thou hast left behind;
Be it thine to pluck from thy way the thorn
And with bleeding hand plant the roses red,
That the sons of men in the days unborn
On a path of flowers may tread.
And such, my soul, is my wish for thee-
Thy Father's wish in the heaven above
That thy road in life may a pathway be
Bedecked with the flowers of love.
The flowers of love are not nature's flowers,
They are not born in the desert air;
They are brought from the heart's far distant bowers,
And must be transplanted there.
Thou shalt find the Canaanite in the land-
I shall not wish that it were not so;
It is good the seed should be sown by thy hand
Where the briers were wont to grow.
Of all good wishes it is the best-
Best use for life and best cure for pain-
That thy hands should toil for another's rest,
And plant for another's gain.
If I could re-write the biographies of those I love, would I ask that God pluck every thorn from the way and "their path be strewn with flowers"? No, though I wish it were not so, "it is good that seed should be sown by (the) hand where briars are wont to grow"; better than flowery beds of ease are the flowers that are left behind.
So I would pray, not for ease and comfort, but for God's strength to endure every pain, for the best seed is sown by the hand "where briers (are) want to grow." This is the "best use for life and the best cure for pain"-that our hands should toil for another's rest and plant love for another's gain.
These plantings are not "nature's flowers," but transplantings from above. They flourish in the heart's "far-distant bower," that place of shade and shelter where we meet with God and our hearts are nourished by his love. Then, through thorny ways he gives the strength to sow seeds of love and leave righteousness and peace behind. There, in our path, "a pine tree shall grow instead of a nettle and a myrtle instead of a thorn. It will be to the LORD's credit, an everlasting monument to his name that will never be effaced" (Isaiah 55:13).
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