The jasmine bush

My brother’s death hit me hard, perhaps because it was so unexpected. John died of a heart attack at only 51. Until then, he had seemed strong, healthy, and in the prime of life, so it was difficult for me to come to terms with this loss.

We had been very close as children, and both of us were keen on nature and the great outdoors. After college, however, we drifted apart. I moved to Southeast Asia, where I raised a family and taught school, while John worked as an engineer in rural Montana.

In recent years, though, we had gotten back in touch. I thought about visiting, but I was busy with work and family responsibilities and kept postponing. Now it was too late. John was gone—just like that! Regrets flooded my mind. If only I had visited!

One evening I prayed, “Dear God, please give me a sign that John’s okay.” I’m not sure what I expected, but nothing came. As I dropped off to sleep later, I asked for a comforting dream, but when I awoke the next morning, I couldn’t remember anything.

At the time, I was staying in a garden suite, which gave me the advantage of stepping into a lovely garden right outside my door. Right by the doorway was a jasmine bush I’d been watching for a week or more, eagerly waiting for it to blossom, and as I stepped outside that morning, something caught my eye.

There on the jasmine bush was a perfect, single white jasmine blossom! Jasmine flowers usually grow in little clumps and bloom all at once, and it’s very rare that only one flower blossoms.

Suddenly, I felt that this was the sign I’d asked God for. It was as clear and definite as if I’d heard John’s voice saying, “I’m all right!” God used my love of nature to give me a sign that was meaningful for me.

You may think it’s a small thing, but to me, it was a reminder of God’s love. His care is manifest in even the smallest details of His creation and our lives. “Not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered.”1

Now whenever I see a jasmine blossom and smell its fragrance, I remember that morning. I no longer wonder if John’s okay. I know he is and that I’ll see him again.

  1. Matthew 10:29–30