He fumbled around for a minute, behind the open car door. Wait, wait, he said awkwardly as his attention was still too focused inside. It felt like he was hesitating a bit too long, she was getting impatient standing there, waiting for him to respond. They had always had a strained friendship if you could even call it that. They had many arguments in the past, and less than a handful of laughs recently.

It had been an especially exhausting and tense couple of days, where the two of them threatened each other’s vision of the future. Now here, he wants her to wait, yet again, for what.

“This is a flower, for you.” He timidly held up a tiny stem pinched between his thumb and index finger, purple and green. Curled and a little wilted along the edges, it wasn’t much to look at. Indeed not a velvety soft rose or a fun springy daisy. It didn’t smell great either: like the overwhelming seduction of jasmine in the summertime. It was an ugly little flower. But his usually furrowed brow softened as he pressed the gift forward into her hands. She barely saw the shadow of a reassuring smile dimpled in one edge of his cheek as he quickly stepped into his car and drove away.

Confused, she took the flower home. This is not the gift she wanted. Conclusions, closure, and peace, that’s the gift she needed from this guy. A path forward and repentance to make it right, that’s what she wanted here. Not an insignificant flower. This didn’t change anything.

But little did she know, this flower was rare. Wisdom received from generations before had taught him the healing properties of those strange little petals. He gave her this tiny bloom for reconciliation and peace, in a place where words may not have been enough. He handed her this gift, not for beauty or show, but for healing. Ironically, she would never know what to do with this little flower. She wasn’t able to appreciate what he saw in the gift she didn’t want.

In another place, time, lifetime, many more of us wait. We wonder where our path leads, looking for conclusions and comfort and peace. Those are the gifts we need, and those are the gifts we also want.

Sitting alone, eaten up by his thoughts, at war with an invisible enemy. Life should not have taken this turn; he had been careful and faithful to do everything right. Well, as much as he could control. He kept his word honorably; he had made wise decisions for himself and his family. He naturally expected the days to go as he planned, as he had worked so hard to stabilize his surroundings.

Yet he sits in ashes. Everything burned to the ground: his family is gone, his empire crumbled. Comfort and stability as a breath, exhaled. Broken shards of memories scrape at his heart. Stumbling backward, lonely and frustrated, he cries to a God who will not answer. He waiting, but for what?

Lost in time, rooted in the dusty earth, a single flower interrupted prophecy and history. The Son of God grew up secretly on Bethlehem’s soil, and the Son of man poured his blood over the barren garden of despair.

Little do we know the ancient and everlasting healing powers of God’s beloved tender shoot.

“This is a flower for you.” Heard the man choking on his underserved ruin. Heard the woman who finds herself walking down an unknown path. Heard the boy unwilling to let go of his anger and pain. Heard the young girl undone from aggressive brain cancer. An ugly flower. This is not the gift they wanted. Conclusions, healing, a new plan, a hopeful solution, closure, peace: these are the gifts they need. These are the gifts we want.

Colliding temporal soil with eternal breath, God gives his ugly little flower to you. And we are ever confused by the ridiculousness of his gift. Little do we know the ancient and everlasting healing powers of God’s beloved tender shoot. Given and shed for reconciliation and peace apart from our virtuous strivings. Pierced and risen for a conclusion and closure beyond our meaningless meanings. We can’t begin to appreciate what it is, the gift we don’t want.

A gift from God, an ugly flower, a bloodied savior, is not the gift I want. It is the gift given amid a boldly outcast life. It is the gift given when there is nothing left to take. It is the gift given in anger and tears and depression and loneliness and disability and weakness. It is the gift given to a miserable sinner, which won’t make them stop sinning. And it doesn’t change anything.

And yet it changes everything. A gift from God, an ugly flower, a bloodied savior, this is not your gift to use. It’s not your gift to understand. It’s not your gift to apply the healing properties in the right way at the right time. In the giving of the gift, all has been made completely well. In the giving of the gift, restitution and forgiveness were secured. In the giving of the gift, death, despair, and consequences have irrevocably met their end.

This savior is a flower, a gift for you. It does not look like what you want. And that’s ok.