Monday, April 26, 2010

God Is the Gardener

I wonder if we all have little sayings or stories that drift into our life every so often and touch our lives, and each time we remember that a particular story touched us and we feel better for having heard it. But as we go along in life, the thought or story slips off to the side and in the background and after so many years, it comes into our life again.

This weekend I heard once again Elder Hugh B. Brown's story of the currant bush. I don't remember when I first heard it but thought it was wonderful, capturing so well what I've felt when I didn't get what I wanted. This is the version that appears "The Memoirs of Hugh B. Brown: An Abundant Life," edited by his grandson Edwin R. Firmage. For those who are younger, Elder Brown served in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints throughout the 1960s and was known as a man of great compassion.

As a young father Hugh B. Brown and his family moved to a farm outside of Cardston, Alberta, Canada, which was "badly run down and overrun with weeds. The shrubs and trees, too, had been badly neglected. One morning, as I went out, I saw a currant bush and noticed that it had grown up all out of proportion. In fact, it had gone to wood; there was no sign of either blossom or fruit. Having had some experience on my father's fruit farm in Salt Lake City, I knew a little about pruning. So I decided to prune this currant bush. As if to set the bush's mind at ease, I said to it, as I took the shears in hand, 'Someday, when you are laden with currants you will thank me for cutting you down so that you could grow properly and develop the fruit that you were created to produce."

Elder Brown entered the military some years before World War I and served in England and France. Over time was promoted again and again until he was very near to a particularly high-ranking office. When he was called to meet with the commanding officer of all the Canadian forces in Europe, he received the disheartening news that he would not be given that position. The commanding officer did not explain, only said he could, not recommend Elder Brown for the post, then left the room to take a phone call and Elder Brown saw his file on the desk and the words at the bottom "THIS MAN IS A MORMON."

When he returned to his post, Elder Brown said he "challenged the Lord for having denied me what I thought was my right. I asked him, "How could you do this to me? When I have been true and faithful all the way through my military career, why do you now cut me down?" I was young, ambitious, vigorous, and would have accepted the post had it been offered to me. Then I heard the voice, my voice, talking to the currant bush back home three years earlier... "I am the gardener here, and I know what I want you to be...Someday, when you are laden with fruit, yhou will thank me for cutting you down, for not submitting to your wish and not appointing you to what you wanted to have."

Elder Brown concludes the story humbly with "I now realize, more than fifty years later, that God is truly the gardener. He knows what he wants each of us to be. I have not amounted to very mcuh in this life as it is, but I believe I have done better than I would have done if the Lord had let me go the way I wanted to go."

It's finally spring and as we're out in the beautiful sunshine, digging and pruning and planting and weeding, it's easy to be grateful for the many wonderful things in our lives. It's also a good time to prune and fertilize our attitudes (picking up on what Lynn said in her post on Friday) and remember that God is our gardener and he knows where he wants us and what he wants us to be.

1 comment:

Cheri J. Crane said...

What an inspiring story. Thank you for sharing, Val. =) Truly food for thought these days.