And the LORD will continually guide you, And satisfy your desire in scorched places, And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail. Isaiah 58:11
I have a new gardener, Shawn, not to be confused with Mario who cheerfully blows leaves from one side of my yard to the other. Shawn comes to my house when the season changes, and I have the great joy of planning what seasonal colors will be added for the next few months. Shawn is a master gardener while I’m just an amateur who loves to see God’s handiwork up close and personal in my garden.
I’ve been anticipating spring long before the pecan trees began to leaf, a Texan’s sure sign that the frosts are over. I’ve tried to second-guess Shawn with ideas of what we’ll add this year. We’re working on what I fancifully call the Fountain Garden (you can imagine why), and much planning has gone into the flowers and foliage. Shawn listed columbine, shrimp plant, hosta, caladium, and many other favorites that I love.
On planting day, I could hardly wait to get home from work to see the scrubby little plot transformed into God’s Eden. But…what? Was I wrong? Was this NOT planting day? As I moved from bed to bed, all I could see were miniature ferns and things staked to the fence. There were tiny bits of foliage poking out of the ground in new places, and there were suggestions of color in other spots. What a letdown. Surely, this wasn’t what I’d waited for months to see.
About bedtime, when the disappointment had thoroughly soaked in, I began to reflect on the whole process of gardening: While the planting has been done, it doesn’t yet appear what the garden will be like. Only in my mind’s eye can I envision the promise that I’ve nurtured in my heart. All the dull hours of cleaning and pulling out dead matter were necessary to give new life an opportunity to thrive without pests and invasive plants. It would have been a lot more fun to just dig a hole and drop in a colorful plant, but—I’m in this garden for the long haul. The digging and harsh tilling were essential to remove the rocks and provide room for strong, healthy roots to develop. As for the smaller plants Shawn incorporated (while I hoped for big bursts of instant color), as they grow, they will combine to make a mass of texture and color and will prevent the weeds from penetrating and spoiling the effect I’ve wanted.
Perhaps the most significant thought was from Hebrews (10:36). I paraphrase: “For you have need of patience, that, after you have done the proper work of the gardener, you might receive the garden of your dreams.” I admit, every morning as soon as the sun is up, I go out to see if anything has occurred in my garden. I like to think that God is also walking about in my heart garden to see if any new fruit is beginning to bud. Might there be a tiny spot of self control in that corner? Or possibly a new bit of joy about to burst into full bloom? I’m hoping so…
Our Father, you speak so often about gardens in your Word. Life began in a garden, and Jesus went often to the garden to be with you. Thank you for digging and planting and nourishing your life in us. Let it blossom fully for your Kingdom and your glory. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.