The Outhouse Flower

Nicole should have a bumper sticker that reads, “I brake for interesting vegetation.” Well, so many of my friends need that phrase emblazoned on their vehicles! Many of us carry digging tools in our cars for “emergencies” such as finding an unusual plant in a neglected area, sometimes about to be bulldozed over.

It should be stated here as a disclaimer that neither Nicole nor I would knowingly dig a protected species of flower just so we could cultivate it in our own gardens, but there is such a thing as a bona fide “plant rescue.” Then there are the times when we couldn’t resist a wonderful roadside “weed” that was in large supply.

That was the case when we came upon a beautiful stand of what we tentatively identified as  Rudbeckia Laciniata, or Cutleaf Coneflower. I was hoping that it was what many people used to call “The Outhouse Flower.” That version is actually Rudbeckia Laciniata Hortensia, with a doubled flower, which blooms most of the summer.

Rudbeckia Laciniata Hortensia is a wildflower that was usually too tall for the common garden, but grew nicely along the walls of old outhouses, beautifying what would otherwise be a totally unpleasant place. The “porta-potty” of days gone by — minus the portability — needed something nice to decorate that smelly place. Too bad for its visitors that the “Outhouse Flower” is not particularly fragrant.

Sorry, Rudbeckia! What an awful nickname you’ve picked up when you were only doing your job! Some flowers get no respect.

“Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor” (2 Timothy 2:20, NASB).

Why do some of us, Rudbeckias included, seem to always get the dirty jobs? Well, that’s not really what this verse is talking about. In the verses preceding this, Paul was decrying the works of false teachers. 

WE get to choose what kind of vessels we will be, unlike the lowly “Outhouse Flower.” 

“Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’ and, ‘Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness’” (2 Timothy 2:19). 

The kind of vessels we become have more to do with how we present ourselves before God, and His response to us, than anything else. 

It is true that some of us may have more resources – natural aptitude, an optimal upbringing, access to wealth, etc., than others. This won’t affect our ability to be “vessels of honor,” but it does affect how others see us. 1 Corinthians 12 speaks of members of the church as various members of a physical body, noting that some members are “less honorable” or “less presentable” (1 Corinthians 12:23, 24). 

Even in this case, the body works together to give more honor to those members who are “less presentable” (1 Corinthians 12:24-26).

Is it not ironic that those of us who have been plucked from the filth and grime of sin have been given such honor by the perfect and pure God of the universe? 

But make no mistake – we are the ones choosing to accept the free gift of God to become vessels of honor! 

Don’t be the outhouse. Be the flower!

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