“Ouch!” Ellie yanked back from the rose thorn, a red line etched across her arm. “How can a plant with such beautiful flowers inflict such pain?” she spoke, to no one in particular. Carefully, she bunched the long stems across her arm. That should be enough for a good bouquet, she thought. She looked around her garden for filler: a few leafy branches, and three white hibiscus blossoms. She set the roses on the picnic table, walked around with the clippers to clip the rest of the bouquet. She loved the weeks it was her turn to bring the flowers to church, finding flowers from her garden, putting them together into a pretty display for the service. Quickly, she trimmed and arranged, stood back, clipped and altered. She worked lightly, to make it look natural, simple. “There,” she spoke aloud, to the Lord. “Will that do for this morning?”
At church, Ellie sat several rows back. The side doors were left open to allow the morning breeze to drift through the small mountain church. She could feel the congregation begin to doze under the pastor’s soft, low voice. A gasp caught her attention. Very quietly, a little voice said, “Mommy, look!” The people stirred as they looked where everyone else was looking.
A deer stepped over the threshold and stood at the door. She looked, drew back. No one moved. Her gaze moved to the bouquet of roses a few feet in front of her. Carefully, she took another step. Ellie wanted to shout out, “No, not my roses!” Instead, she thought about humming, “As the deer pants for the roses, so my soul follows after You…” But she didn’t. With everyone else, she hardly breathed. The pastor stopped speaking. The deer stretched out her neck, took another couple of steps, and munched on the roses. It was so quiet they could hear her chewing. Ellie couldn’t believe how bold she was. Those roses must be a real treat for her, she thought. A few plant pieces dribbled to the floor.
Minutes passed. The deer ate all the roses. Then, she sedately walked across the church and out the opposite door. A huge breath crossed the room. A few giggles. The people talked. The pastor looked around, not sure what to say next. “Ellie, we would like to thank you for providing such a delicious bouquet for our service this morning.” More giggles. “I think I will let the deer finish my sermon.” He thumbed through his Bible and read, “Psalm 34:8. ‘Oh taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!’ I’ll add, also, that the deer ate the thorns along with the stems and the buds. The Lord’s creatures know all is a gift from Him, good or bad. The Lord, He is good!”