Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another.” 1 John 4:11
Daddy had eight children and a whole lot of babies. I was always amazed that Daddy and Momma had eight children. I’m not sure they ever figured out what was going on, but I sure am glad it took them as long as it did! If they had stopped a little sooner, well, I wouldn’t have made the cut. In the Taylor tribe we all know they were striving for perfection, and it just took a while—you know the whole saving the best for last thing. Honestly, and not kidding, maybe too they knew that the things that really matter in life can’t be found in a store. Maybe they realized that family, and lots of it, was better than fancy houses and nice cars.
Well, like I said, my Daddy had lots of other babies besides the ones he and Momma gave names too. You see, my Daddy loved flowers. He loved his amaryllises, and he loved his bromeliads. The first he would carefully cultivate and sometimes even guard. I remember he had a beautiful all white one that someone actually dug up and stole from our yard. He was not happy. The bromeliads were placed under the large oak trees we had and needed just a little care…until the weather changed. Since it was north Florida, it didn’t happen often but sometimes the temperature would drop near freezing and when it did, the call always rang out, “Dewayne, you need to bring in the bromeliads”. That meant carrying each pot into the breezeway or garage to protect them from the cold. They were scratchy and heavy but all that didn’t matter. He had to protect the babies.
His most favorite babies also needed the most care. They lived in the backyard in a large diamond shaped garden. It was his prized rose garden. I can’t remember exactly how many lived there but it was probably a couple dozen or more. These did have names and three that stick out in my memory are Mr. Lincoln, Peace, and Tropicana. I do remember that across the backyard these needy, sticky, bushes rewarded him and us with beautiful blooms throughout the growing season. But…they were needy.
Daddy would come home from work about four, have a cup of coffee with Momma in the backyard under the tree and then see what the babies needed. Sometimes, often actually, there was pruning to do. I know regular flowering bushes get “deadheaded” but that was much too common for Daddy’s babies…they were always pruned. They also frequently needed to be sprayed with an insecticide. It seemed bugs liked his roses as much as he did. Then, about once a month they needed to be fertilized. He would go from bush to bush, adding a small cup of granular fertilizer and then work it into the soil and pine straw that nestled at the base of every bush.
All that was pretty much left to the expert eye and care of my Daddy but there was one thing that often fell to me. I would come home from school and soon Momma would say, “Dewayne, Daddy wants you to water the rosebushes before he gets home.” Now I need to be honest and say that is not something I wanted to hear or do. The water hose needed to be placed at the base of each bush and the water slowly, and I do mean slowly, allowed to seep into the dirt. It easily took an hour and a half to complete the task and whining or not…I did it. One, Daddy said to do it and that was probably the biggest motivation but there was another. I was helping take care of something he loved and that was important too.
Well, eventually, I grew up and moved away, Daddy went to be with Jesus, Momma sold the house, and a lot of the babies were left behind. I’m sure some were taken and moved but others were just gone…all but the memories of a man who loved his babies and loved his kids. Looking back, I appreciate now those hours moving the hose from bush to bush. Looking back, I realize it wasn’t about watering bushes…it was about honoring him and pleasing him. It was about loving what he loved.
Did you know that is a lot of what serving God is all about? You see, God loves this old, broken world…always has and I always will. He loves each of His “babies” and longs for them to come into relationship with Him by faith in His Son, Jesus. He has even asked us to “water the garden” by sharing that good news with those around us who don’t know Him yet. I know it can sometimes be scary or maybe inconvenient. It might even be we figure some of them just aren’t worthy of His love and forgiveness. Well, the truth is that would be all of us because we are all broken and messed up but that never stopped God from caring and loving us. And because He loved us…we should love others.
In His Book, John wrote and said, “Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another.” So today, why not look for a way to “water” someone’s life with a little love, a little grace, and a little kindness. That would make Him smile. And He is just waiting to help you. Daddy showed me how to water his babies and our Dearest Daddy will do the same. He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne