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Topic: Bullies (08/09/04)
TITLE: Flowers Along the Way
By Randy Chambers
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To me, there is something about a bright and beautiful sunny day that lifts my spirits high. At the age of five, my young heart beat more prominently to the wonders of the world around; and in such times could not withhold expressions sought to be released. And so, without concern or thought of others who might observe my joyous display, I would indulge. My walks home from school were hardly walks. But, instead, exhibitions filled with whistling, singing, skipping, and whatever else welled in my heart.
This was routine for me. But there were times my thoughts would turn and stride would break due to some distraction. I still remember vividly the old man who came up beside me, skipping along with me. I still remember how uncomfortable it made me feel. I can imagine now the look on my face—a mixture of fear and curiosity. He stayed with me only for a moment, skipping, and then without a word, went back into his yard.
I can still recall the flowerbed that caught my eye one day—so many wonderful colors. Since I was a five-year-old boy on my way home from kindergarten, the next thoughts that came to my mind should seem quite obvious. Surely with all those flowers, they wouldn’t miss just one. Just one, I thought, one to pick and give to mommy. After all, she liked flowers, and I liked to see her happy. The idea lit my face, and so I set out across the yard, knelt down, and plucked the perfect flower just for her.
I don’t remember what kind of flower it was, but I do remember looking up to see a woman looking through her window at me. She wasn’t far away as the flowerbed was next to a small fence, next to her house. She didn’t smile at me; neither did she seem upset. And so I left with the flower in my hand.
I walked across the yard and then to the corner, and began to cross the street. I had not made it very far before a small group of boys, about eight or nine years of age, came and stood in front of me.
“Is that your flower?” One boy demanded.
I wasn’t really sure what to say. I began to reply only to be abruptly shoved to the ground. The boys beat up on me a bit. The one boy took the flower from my hand. And then they left, walking toward the house of the woman who saw me pick her flower from the bed.
I am not sure what happened next. The memory of the moments after, have disappeared it seems. Since then, many more encounters have ensued. My family moved around a lot, and as a new kid, I got to experience what new kids often do. I never knew quite how to deal with that, and so fell prey to schoolyard predators who had something to prove.
It is said that our experiences shape us. If that is so, I might wonder what is there to me beneath the wounds and scars of childhood? But I truly do not need to wonder long. For as a child of God I am certainly more than the sum total of my experiences. In tribulation, I have found triumph—behind the bruises, blessing. And though I do not fully understand the whys behind the whats within my life, I know that what others intend for evil, God can use for good. I know that God is, and has always been, in control. And I know that it is God who has shaped me to glorify him uniquely. He has fashioned me through many things: experiences, good times, bad times, and more. And in every part of it, He has enabled me to see through the troubled times to find that which beat within my heart so long ago—the childlike faith—to once again discover the flowers along the way.