By Debbonnaire Kovacs

Michael Arthur Patterson was thinking so hard he didn’t hear his dad come into the room. He jumped when Dad said his name.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you. Are you ready to learn the new layout?”

“OK.” Mike got up and reached for Dad’s arm.

Lilies of the Field had just begun ordering wildflowers from a new supplier. Dad and Aunt Rose had spent a long time figuring out how to fit the new orders into the big, glass-doored flower coolers.

“We tried not to change the order too much,” Aunt Rose told him. “Everything is still the same on the right side, just crowded closer together. But on the left side, everything is new.” She took Mike’s hand and guided it to touch things as she spoke. “Short vases here on the top shelf—violets, then pansies, then forget-me-nots . . .”

Mike tried to concentrate, but part of his mind was still with his earlier thoughts.

Aunt Rose stopped. “You’re a million miles away, Mike! Is something wrong?”

“No, not wrong exactly. I just keep thinking . . .” Mike hesitated.

“Thinking about what, son?” Mike felt Dad’s big, comforting hand on his shoulder.

“How do we share Jesus’ love?” Mike asked.

“Well!” Dad sounded surprised. “That’s a big subject!”

“Our Sabbath School lesson is about Jesus dying on the cross. He did that for everybody, and so many people don’t know or don’t care!” Words tumbled out of Mike now. “At school, people never mention God except to swear. I usually try not to notice, but today it really bothered me. What am I supposed to do? Stand up and announce, ‘Hey, everybody, God loves you so much He sent His only begotten Son, so if you believe in Him, you won’t perish, but have everlasting life!’” Mike waved his arm in a sweeping motion, and cracked his knuckles against the refrigerator. “Ouch!”

“Careful!” Aunt Rose took his hand and rubbed the knuckles gently. “I know what you mean. It bothers me too. I wish I could make people understand.”

“We share Jesus’ love in lots of ways,” Dad said. “The name of this shop, for one. Remember, we have sentences from Matthew 6:27–33 painted on our door and printed on every florist box. We seek out small growers and suppliers like this new wildflower farm, and order from them so that they can stay in business. We pay the highest prices we can to people like Susannah’s mom, who make wreaths and dried arrangements for us. I believe that when we do business the way Jesus would, it shows His love more than we might realize.”

“I know, Dad. I agree. It’s just that—it doesn’t seem like enough.”

The phone rang and the doorbells tinkled at the same time. Aunt Rose answered the phone. At the door, Dad said, “Mr. Fontaine! Great to see you!”

“Raining pitchforks!” Mr. Fontaine grumbled. “Should have stayed home!” Mike heard the swooshing of an umbrella being opened and shut, and a spatter of droplets on the tiled floor.

“Oh, you know,” Dad said cheerfully, “April showers—”

“Bring May flowers, I know, I know!” There was a distinct snap to Mr. Fontaine’s voice today. He refused a seat and a cup of peppermint tea. “I’ll just take my rose and go home and get dry. Next thing you know, I’ll have pneumonia!”

Sadly, Mike turned to the cooler and felt carefully for the white rose vase in its newly crowded position. Mr. Fontaine had seemed happier lately. Mike had really hoped God’s love had made some impression on the old man’s heart.

After Mr. Fontaine left, he said to Aunt Rose and Dad, “See what I mean? What’s the use of sharing Jesus’ love when people won’t listen?”

“Jesus didn’t say it would be easy, Son. He did say He’d give us His own love and patience. He hasn’t given up on Mr. Fontaine, so we won’t either.” Dad replied.

Mike tipped his head sharply. What was that sound?

“What is it, Mike?” Aunt Rose asked. “Do you hear something?”

Mike opened the door and clearly heard cursing coming from somewhere down the street. “Dad! It’s Mr. Fontaine! Something’s wrong!”

Dad hurried out the door. Mike waited impatiently. In a moment, he heard Dad shout, “Mike! Call 9-1-1!”

Mike dashed to the counter and grabbed the phone, but his fumbling fingers couldn’t find the right numbers.

“What is it, Mike? What did he say?”

“He says call 9-1-1! I think Mr. Fontaine is hurt!”

“Here.” Aunt Rose dialed for him. “I’ll go check. You stay at the phone.”

Just as Aunt Rose opened the door, Dad came in. “Help me get him on the sofa,” Dad’s voice sounded breathless. Mike could hear a faint groan.

The next few minutes were a blur. Mike stayed on the phone, relaying information to the 911 dispatcher. Dad and Aunt Rose tried to make Mr. Fontaine comfortable. A siren wailed up the street. Mike heard the rattling of a gurney and calm questions from the emergency medical technicians. He thanked the dispatcher and hung up.

Clutching his trembling hands together on the countertop, Mike whispered, “Please, God, please just don’t let him die until he understands! What can I say? What can I do?”

Hurrying over to the coolers, he opened the left door and felt for the third vase from the left, on the top shelf. He pulled out a few small, fragile flowers.

“Dad, is he awake?” Mike asked.

“I don’t know, Son.”

“Will you lead me to him?”

Dad led Mike to the gurney and put his hand on Mr. Fontaine’s old, wrinkled one. It felt cold.

“Mr. Fontaine? Can you hear me?” Mike spoke loudly into Mr. Fontaine’s ear.

Slowly, the old fingers curled around his. Mike tucked the damp flowers into them. “These are forget-me-nots. God hasn’t forgotten you, and we won’t either. If you have to stay in the hospital, we’ll visit you there.”

Mike felt his way to Mr. Fontaine’s face. Beside the oxygen mask, he felt a tear trickle down Mr. Fontaine’s wrinkled cheek.

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