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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Anticipating This Year's Beautiful Garden

“The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.”

Isaiah 58:11 NIV

Every year God gives me another chance to improve my gardens. I get out there and roll up my sleeves, put on my gardening hat, grab my gloves, shovel, and kneeling pad. I tote a wheelbarrow full of plants, pull out the garden hose and begin the process. All the while as I work I hum to myself, I pray, and I visualize and anticipate that this year’s garden will be the best one yet! Oh the heart of a gardener! I am reminded that even though I do the physical work it is God who brings the success. It is God’s rain and his sunshine that produce results.

This year I have decided that I am going to add something new to my heart’s garden. I am adding a darling gazebo that will be surrounded by brilliant blue hydrangeas and covered with climbing hot pink mandevilla vines. This will be the focal point in this year’s garden. I am going to use the gazebo as a focal point for spiritual growth. This will be the place where I will set my mind on things above. It will be the place where I will surrender my will to God. This will be the place where I will unload my emotions. This will be the place where I will cry out for God’s help. This will be the place where I will tell God I love him and he will whisper that he loves me too!

As I am dreaming of the gazebo, God taps me on the shoulder and says, “come walk with me.” After a little while I begin to wander off of the flagstone pathway. I bend down and remove my shoes so that I can feel the cool, thick carpet of fescue as we walk. This new spring growth reminds me that my spiritual growth is all about having the mind of Christ. As we walk the Master Gardener simply says, “Paula, don’t forget to read my Word. It will be your strength and it will guide your steps and light your pathway.”

The Master Gardner brings to my attention the stately ferns and the lush hosta. He tells me that even though they seem fragile, they are foundational in providing that lush green background for all the other beautiful flowers. He says, “Paula, I love these plants because they are established plants that come back every year.” He reminds me that I must not take for granted the previous perennial growth that is in my garden, that even though these plants are intended to come back every year, they could be uprooted at any time! Therefore, I must continue to gird up my mind and be ready for action and obedience when negative thoughts come into my mind. It is important not to damage any of the foundational plants of my faith that are showing signs of established spiritual growth.

Today I am also thinking about my emotions. I confess Lord that they are huge! My emotions trip me up and they jump out of the bushes when I least suspect. Jesus reminds me that he too had emotions. Then I begin to remember that Jesus wept at the death Lazarus. He showed compassion and mercy to those he healed. Jesus loved the little children. I imagine Jesus even laughed and shook his head at the disciples, wondering if they would ever get it! Jesus loved his mother and entrusted her to John as he was dying on the cross. He became angry with the merchants for desecrating the temple. Jesus felt the betrayal of Judas, the denial of Peter, the anguish of Gethsemane, and the rejection of mankind. I believe that when a person is mocked, spit upon, scourged and nailed to a cross their emotions have the potential to flair up and explode! Yet Jesus kept his emotions under control at all times. Jesus was able to control his emotions out of his love for the Father and by keeping his focus on his reason for coming to this earth. “Now my heart is troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour?’ No, it was for this very reason I came to his hour. Father, glorify your name!” John 12: 27-28 NIV

So today I must take stock of all that is growing in my garden. I must protect the good perennials because they are foundational to my faith. I must work to uproot the weeds that will choke out my joy. I must allow God to plant new truth and water it well. I must fertilize my garden by reading God’s Word. I must be on the lookout for the pestilence of negative thoughts and emotions. Yes, this year I am anticipating a beautiful garden! The Master Gardner and I will work to improve my heart’s garden every day. I must care for my heart’s garden because I love the Gardner. "The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” Isaiah 58:11 NIV


How important is it to focus on God’s will for your day?

What are you currently doing to keep growing in your love of Jesus?

How do you keep your mind ready for any attacks that may come from your emotions and trigger sinful, damaging thoughts?

Do you believe it is possible for God to help you in your time of need?

What are you currently doing to take care of your heart’s garden?


Dear Father,

I pray that this year my spiritual garden will be the most beautiful garden that I have every allowed you to plant. I am seeing that the things that offend me, tick me off, aggravate me, irritate me, and hurt me need to be filtered through your love for me and your love for others. Teach me your thoughts of mercy and compassion and your thoughts about forgiveness. Fill me with your thoughts that remind me that I am loved by you. Help me to replace my thoughts with your thoughts. Lord I am in need of thoughts that will allow me to trust and obey you. I pray Father that I will not be driven by my emotions but rather by my love for you. Oh Father, how I desire that I might love you enough to give my emotions to you. Help me to know that you are all I need and that you will always be more than enough. I pray that my responses and my attitudes would be the same as yours and that my actions would glorify your name. Father, help me to remember that just like Jesus, my purpose for living is also to bring glory to you.

In Your Son’s Name I Pray. Amen.