Two eight-year-old girls, full of dimples and pigtails, glanced out the kitchen window. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, and the flowers and plants were blooming gloriously. What a perfect time for a picnic dinner!
Mary raced outdoors, dragging a red and white checkered blanket behind her. She spread it out hastily a few feet from the flower and vegetable garden she and her mother had planted earlier in the year. She headed back in, only to nearly run into her friend Sarah, who was carrying a large picnic basket.
"I'll get the lemonade and you set up the rest of the stuff - OK?"
Sarah nodded and started putting out the flowered paper plates, napkins and cups, and the pink plastic forks, knives and spoons. Mary returned and poured out the lemonade. The girls then began unpacking the food - fried chicken, potato chips, string cheese and chocolate chip cookies, just out of the oven.
"You wanna pick some strawberries? We can wash them off with the hose. I planted them all by myself!"
"Ow! Be gentle, kid!!"
"Listen to you! You're always complaining, straw! Yanno they can't hear you, so why bother?"
"I've heard about enough of you," an ear of corn added. "You think being picked hurts - try getting shucked!"
"That's nothing - bet none of you has ever had your head cut off!" the lettuce grumbled.
The potatoes rolled their eyes. "Such complainers!"
"When I was young," an iris added, "we had to get our own water - none of this sprinkler and watering can convenience. We sent our roots deep into the ground - uphill, both ways, in scorching heat! You youngsters have it easy!"
"You may be a bearded iris," the bluebells chimed in, "but you're no older than the rest of us, so get off your high horse!"
A serene, calm voice spoke, quieting all the grumbling.
"Now, dear friends, we must appreciate all that the good Lord has given us," the Jack-in-the-pulpit exhorted. "Look at this fine soil, with all the nutrients we could need to grow. And those lovely people who come and water us and give us fertilizer. God has also given us such wonderful diversity and beauty. And, for those of you complaining, remember that our purpose in life, at least in part, is to give pleasure to God's chosen - his humans! Remember that when you are cut or picked or eaten or shucked, God's purpose is being fulfilled!"
Hearty "Amens" came from all corners of the garden.
"And also remember, we could be indoor plants, and we would miss the wonderful show our Lord provides for us each day," Jack continued. "So be grateful and praise Him for exactly where we are!"
"Hey," a violet shouted toward the herbs, "Speaking of the show - does anyone have the thyme?"
The corn sighed and put its hands over its ears. "That joke wasn't funny the first time you said it. Cut it out, bud!"
"Don't you even joke about cutting with a flower!"
"Watch it, mister! How do you think Susan got that black eye?"
"Hush, children," Jack whispered. "The show is about to begin."
Mary's mother stuck her head out the back door.
"Girls - keep your eyes open - looks like the sun is about to set!"
Mary and Sarah, finished with their meals, lay down on the blanket facing west.
As the brilliant reds, oranges, purples and yellows of God's daily performance came into view, two little girls - and several other parts of God's creation - thanked Him for the beauty of His artistry, and His many good gifts.
You mountains and all hills,
Fruit trees and all cedars,
Wild animals and all cattle.
Small creatures and flying birds,
Kings of the earth and all nations,
You princes and all rulers on earth,
Young men and maidens,
Old men and children.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Psalm 148:9-12, 150:6 NIV
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