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Tulip (2)

“What do the tulips remind you of?” Krystal asked her parents.

“The five—” they said the words in unison and laughed. Mother feigned a curtsy and then let Father speak.

“The five points of Calvinism,” Father completed the answer. “You remember: total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, and perseverance of the saints. It spells ‘TULIP,’ and it all goes together.”

Yes, now Krystal remembered. But she couldn’t have named each letter so well as Father!

“If you understand TULIP,” he continued, “you’ll be able to see much more clearly the difference between what we believe and what others believe. And you’ll be able to appreciate and love that difference, too. These are precious truths!”

She fingered the tulips in the vase. They were beautiful! Silky, shiny, richly colored blossoms they were. But the truths that TULIP represented were even more beautiful! Krystal would come to find this out very soon in a much deeper way.

“Total depravity. Do you remember what that is?” Father quizzed Krystal.

“I think…it’s that we are all sinners,” she said. She looked up from the tulips and leaned on her elbows to listen to Father’s reply.

“Yes,” Father nodded, “and even more than that, it means we are totally dead in sin. Totally. By ourselves we can do absolutely nothing good at all. We—”

Before Father could finish his explanation, Krystal’s elbows suddenly slipped on the table, knocking the vase of tulips over. The vase broke, the flowers spread over the table, and the water ran onto the floor.

Mother hurried to find a rag. “Krystal, you have to be more careful!” she chided as she began to wipe up the mess.

Krystal’s eyes filled with tears. She hadn’t meant to knock them over! But it was true, she quite often wasn’t very careful.

Father quietly picked up the broken pieces of the vase. He held them in his hands. Finally he said, “See this ‘vase’?” He walked over to the trash bin and dropped the pieces in. Plunk—plunk, plunk. “That’s us—all of us. By nature we are like a broken vase that can hold not one drop of goodness. Not one.” (to be continued)