“It’s a girl. Her name is Lily.”
Lily. My friend had held an armful of lilies on her wedding day, white, bold and beautiful. I’d stood proudly at her side. Now she holds her own Lily in her arms – a beautiful gift from God.
If I ever get married, it will be roses for sure. Red roses. God has often used roses to communicate His love and presence to me. I’d hoped to one day have a daughter, a girl whom I would probably have named ‘Rosalinda’, meaning ‘pretty rose’. One can always dream.
Lily’s mother is my double. With almost identical names, born days apart into similar families, later developing the same interests and entering the same profession, our lives have followed parallel tracks. We each smiled nicely as most of our peers walked down the aisle. Then Prince Charming swept her off her feet. She always was just a few steps ahead of me.
It was evening when I received the news of Lily’s birth. Far from home, visiting friends, I somehow held back the tears until I’d bid my friends goodnight. I stood alone on a small cement balcony gazing at the city lights, overwhelmed by happiness and loneliness.
“I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys” (Song of Songs 2:1 NIV). That’s us. Our names mean ‘lily of the valley’ and ‘rose of Sharon’. On the dark balcony, I poured out my heart to our Father. “Why have you given my friend her Lily, but withheld my Rose?” In the cool night air, I felt His touch. It seemed that God whispered into my heart, “Watch for the roses and remember that you are my beloved.”
The next day was spent exploring the coastline. Midday found us at ‘The Swallow’s Nest’, a park on the edge of a cliff with a winding path down to the grey ocean below. The park is full of artificial yet realistic lilies. White lilies, pink lilies, an arch of lilies, a pole of lilies – lilies are everywhere. Again, I offered up a prayer of thanks for baby Lily, and again, felt the Lord’s gentle whisper, “Watch for the roses.”
Two happy hours were spent clambering down to the ocean below, up and over rocks, then dragging ourselves back up the narrow winding path. When we finally arrived at the cliff-top park, my face was as red as any rose could be.
Amazingly, in the two hours since we’d descended the narrow path, the park had filled with newly married couples having their photos taken. Deep in thought, I lost my friends. Scanning the crowds without success, I figured that they’d ascended the man-made ‘Swallow’s Nest’ – a higher vantage point from which to admire the view. Quickly I climbed the stairs which were encased in an artificial tree trunk. Emerging into daylight at the top, I was faced with … yes … red roses! The ‘Swallow’s Nest’ was full of cameras trained on a bride and groom. I, however, photographed only the flowers held by a woman standing at the top of the stairs. The bridal party descended down the man-made tree trunk and I was left alone in ‘the swallow’s nest’ … and yet not alone. God was very near.
My friends emerged from the bathroom, and we strolled further along. We came across another newly married couple. This bride held a magnificent lily, offset by gorgeous red roses. Clicking the camera, I commented, “They’re so beautiful!” My friends thought I meant the couple. I had eyes only for the flowers and all they symbolized.
All too soon, the trip was over and I returned home to the dry and dusty city in which I live. Trudging down a potholed road, I pondered again the miracle of Lily’s birth. “What about me, Lord?” At the very moment I asked the question, a nearby shop turned on their stereo, the music booming down the street. “You are my rose, you are my flower,” the singer bellowed over and over. Can a CD get stuck? As I drew closer to home, the music faded into the distance. In my mind, however, I can still hear the lyrics loud and clear.
My friend has her Lily. As we grow older, it becomes less and less likely that I’ll have my Rose. Yet I am His rose, and we are His flowers. We are His beloved – the rose of Sharon and the lily of the valleys.
That’s all that matters.
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