I BEG YOUR PARDON, I NEVER PROMISED YOU A ROSE GARDEN.

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I BEG YOUR PARDON, I NEVER PROMISED YOU A ROSE GARDEN.

If you recognize the title, or worse, the album cover, it puts you in a certain era. Life was good back then, wasn’t it? The world was trying to take it slow, go with the flow, and ‘don’t worry be happy’ was quite the buzz. Yet, if you read the words of the Lynn Anderson hit, lovely as it is, it does leave us wanting for a little more stability. Click on the album cover to watch the music video and you will see what I mean.

“I beg your pardon,
I never promised you a rose garden.
Along with the sunshine,
There's gotta be a little rain sometimes.”

Wow, imagine hearing that from someone you fancied getting into a relationship with. Realistic, pragmatic, honest even. But that is not really something you want to hear coming from a person you are thinking about sharing the rest of your life with, is it? And it gets worse.

“I could promise you things like big diamond rings,
But you don't find roses growin' on stalks of clover.
So you better think it over.
Well, if sweet-talkin' you could make it come true,
I would give you the world right now on a silver platter,
But what would it matter?
So smile for a while and let's be jolly:
Love shouldn't be so melancholy.
Come along and share the good times while we can.”

Right on, and as the world would say, we are all going to die and go to hell anyway, might as well enjoy the ride.

I loved this song growing up, mostly because I did not realize just what the words meant in the context of life and relationships. I was no more than 5 when I heard this for the first time. But you know what? Jesus said the exact same thing to us. Now there’s a shocker, isn’t it? Matthew, Mark and Luke all account Jesus’ version of Rose Garden.

“Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and will deceive many.” Mark 13:5-6

“For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be earthquakes in various places, and there will be famines and troubles. These are the beginnings of sorrows.” Mark 13:8

“But watch out for yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils, and you will be beaten in the synagogues. You will be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony to them.” Mark 13:9

“You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake.” Luke 21:16-17
“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.” Matthew 24:9-12
Wow, I like the Lynn Anderson version better already, don’t you? Life sounds bleak for us. Why did we get ourselves into this mess in the first place? Shouldn’t we all do as the world does and share the good times while we can? What’s worse is, we don’t even know when it will happen. For Jesus says,

“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” Matthew 24:36-39

So you are sitting there thinking , ‘Oh no, whatever shall we to do?’ Well Jesus is clear in this area.

“But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:34-36

Now, if you think that this is going to be a ‘How To’ on escaping the End Times doom, it is not. If you think this is going to be another discussion on end times prophecy, it is not. And it surely is not a prediction on what date the end of the world will come; because, let’s face it, Jesus already said that only the Father knows the date. Last I checked, I wasn’t God. Are you? So let’s let our Father have His secrets and respect His wishes; don’t begrudge it, because He must have a good and loving reason for keeping it from us.

What this is then, is Jesus’ message of hope. But how can this be? It sounds worse than Lynn Anderson’s song? Well beloved, I cheated and left some parts out. You see, Jesus did not just tell us that the world was going to get worse and then leave us be. He didn’t say, ‘Come along and share the good times while we can.’. No. He said this.

“But when you hear of wars and commotions, do not be terrified; for these things must come to pass first, but the end will not come immediately.” Luke 21:9

But how can we not be terrified? Was Jesus listening to Himself? Well yes, beloved. Very much so and He takes the trouble to show us, step by step, why we need not be terrified.

“But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.” Mark 13:11

The main tribulation that befalls us personally is persecution. And to this trial, Jesus promises that help will be at hand so there is nothing to fear. Now this is not a new promise. Remember when Moses said this to God?

“Then Moses said to God, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?”” Exodus 3:13

And how did God respond?

“And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” Moreover God said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.’ Go and gather the elders of Israel together, and say to them, ‘The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared to me, saying, “I have surely visited you and seen what is done to you in Egypt; and I have said I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, to a land flowing with milk and honey.”’ Then they will heed your voice; and you shall come, you and the elders of Israel, to the king of Egypt; and you shall say to him, ‘The LORD God of the Hebrews has met with us; and now, please, let us go three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.’ But I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not even by a mighty hand. So I will stretch out My hand and strike Egypt with all My wonders which I will do in its midst; and after that he will let you go. And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and it shall be, when you go, that you shall not go empty-handed. But every woman shall ask of her neighbor, namely, of her who dwells near her house, articles of silver, articles of gold, and clothing; and you shall put them on your sons and on your daughters. So you shall plunder the Egyptians.” Exodus 3:14-22

God not only gave Moses a response for the area of doubt that Moses had, He exceeded his request and gave Moses his entire script. So if God could give Moses his script to lead the people out of Israel, do you think our Father will not give you the words to stand up against persecution from your family, your colleagues, your friends, even your community? Not only that, Jesus promises that He has use for such times of persecution because,

“…it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony.” Luke 21:13

“Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist.” Luke 21: 14-15

You don’t even need to try, Jesus says, because He will give you more than what you need. So much in fact, that all your critics will be silenced. Now that is a feat.

And even though “You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake.” Luke 21:16-17

“But not a hair of your head shall be lost.” Luke 21:18

For “By your steadfastness and patient endurance you shall win the true life of your souls.” Luke 21:19 [AMPC]

And when things get really bad, when

“…there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” Luke 21: 25-26

What shall we do?

“Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” Luke 21:28

Why? Because that is when

“…He will send His angels, and gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest part of earth to the farthest part of heaven.” Mark 13:27

Now, I know all this sounds a little science fiction to you. It’s all a bit Armageddon and far removed from your daily grind. When you hear messages like this and read passages like these, it always leaves you feeling a little lost, with a big dose of ‘so what’ in your mouth. So beloved, here is the ‘what’.

Yes, it’s all far out. Some say it has happened, some say it hasn’t, and yet others say it is happening. Whatever it is, it doesn’t change the fact that God has a plan for us when the world ends. He knows what is going to happen, He tells us what is going to happen and He even tells us just what to do when we see the signs. So do you think our Father doesn’t have a plan for your life right now? He knows how to orchestrate the end of civilization for billions of people, so do you think He cannot orchestrate your circumstances to work for your good right now? He already has an escape plan for His own to bring us into His glory, so do you think He does not have a way to get you out of your troubles right now?

Beloved, remember that our Father said,

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declared the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 [NIV]

Our Father has a plan, for each and every one of us. A plan that prospers us. A plan that gives us hope and a future. Remember beloved, that Jesus said,

“The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).” John 10:10 [AMPC]

Though the world cries out incessantly, screaming at us not to believe it, yet all the more, if we are to be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, we must do the work of God. And what is the work of God?

“Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?”
Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” John 6:28-29

Our Father has a plan, beloved. A plan that is customized for each and every one of us. Yes, He never promised us a rose garden. But He did tell us to

“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 3:16

So yes, after Adam, this life was never ever going to be a rose garden. But we always have our Father looking out for us when we walk through it. Remember, God has a plan.

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