to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”
2 Chronicles 16:9a NIV
During the winter months I feel trapped inside the house and I long for spring when I will once again enjoy the work, beauty and joy of my gardens. It is during these months that I thumb through gardening books and seed catalogs dreaming of what this coming year’s garden will look like.
I can’t wait for my tulip tree to blossom and the weeping willow to start unfolding its leaves of delicate pale green. I watch in anticipation for the heads of yellow daffodils that will emerge in irregular patches throughout the wooded area in the back of our property.
In my mind I envision the entire garden in its state of completion. Inside the heart of this gardener is the hope that next season’s garden will be a vision of beauty. The Master Gardner is not so different in the plans that he has for the garden of my heart. God sees the entire garden of my heart. He sees my life stretched out over the canvas of all my days and he knows every step I will take, every problem I will encounter, and every joy I will experience. He envisions my life finished according to his master plan and he is pleased. The Master Gardener has designed a plan to give me a hope and a future!
So today, God and I will walk together in the garden of my heart. We enter the garden through a gate that is attached to a white arched trellis. The trellis supports gorgeous purple jackmanii clematis. The smell of confederate jasmine is in the air. The Master Gardner brings to my attention many of the perennial plants that have been established, multiplied and are currently thriving in the garden. The Gardner mentions that I have used the red Bee Balm to soothe the hearts of my friends that suffer. He whispers that he knows I use the delicate for-get-me-knots as a reminder for me to spend time with him. He mentions that the Brown-eyed Susan’s also serve as my reminder to keep my eyes open for ways to love others. He smiles as he points out the pink tulips because this reminds him that I am learning to kiss the lives of others with his grace. He says, Paula, I am so proud of you. You have learned many things from setting with me in the garden. I am humbled and embarrassed by his encouragement because I do not feel that I am very good at any of those things.
His tone is loving but serious. Paula, this garden of yours is huge. This year I need you to trust me because I may ask you to go to places in the garden that you have never been before. I begin to tremble at the thought of walking through hanging vines of uncertainty into an area of the garden that I have never been before. He said, “Why are you so afraid? All new places are not bad. In fact some are beautiful, exciting, and fun. I may ask you to walk through the forest of change, but don’t be afraid. The challenge will be rewarding. I may allow you to peer over the edge of a garden wall and see majestic mountains that I will help you climb. You may feast on rainbows of my promises, you will see sunrises of hope and sunsets of my faithfulness. I may ask you to take off your shoes and walk through the lush green grass of the table land where I will allow you to feast on my provision. There will be wonderful times of joy in your life and in the lives of those you love. I may also have a new assignment for you that will develop your character, bless others, and glorify me.”
Now I speak. “God, of course, I’m not afraid of the good experiences but I am a bit fearful of what I do not know that may be waiting for me in the shadows of the garden.” My inner thoughts remind me that my first thoughts are usually fear of all I do not see and understand. I hate change and the uncertainty of the future. I look down and a serpent hisses and slithers off into the grasses. He leaves behind fresh chills of fear. I for one do not want to walk into loneliness, hard times, pain, or suffering. These thoughts threaten to smoother me. I am now on the verge of hyperventilating!
As always, Jesus knows my fears and then he lovingly reminds me that he sees the big picture. “Paula, I promise you that I will not ask you to climb the tallest oak and go out on the weakest limb without standing under you with my everlasting arms. I can be trusted. I will not send you into the darkness of the garden without going with you. Remember I am the Light of the World and in me there is no darkness. You do not know the future but you do know the One who holds the future. Because of this you can be at peace. Life is full of surprises for you, but nothing is a surprise for me. That is why I so carefully walk before you and prepare the way."
“So God, what should I do?” The Gardner places his arm around me and whispers, “Paula, just enjoy your garden. Spend time with me in prayer, read my Word and learn truth. Find my promises in the Word and hide them in your heart. Enjoy every beautiful day you have and keep doing your homework and when that time comes to go somewhere in the garden that you have never been before, I will be with you. I will be with you every day in the good times and the bad. You my daughter will never be alone.” Then the final message of the Gardner came, “If you knew the future you would have no need to trust. Trusting me is just another way I know you love me. I need your love.”
Do you believe that there is both joy and sorrow found in the garden?
Do you find strength in knowing that God goes before you preparing the way?
Can you recall a joyous time that you experienced in the garden?
Are you currently experiencing fear in the garden?
What can you do to strengthen your faith?
How does trusting God give you hope for surviving sorrow in the garden?
Our walk in the garden today has been encouraging. Thank you that you have reassured me of what is right in my life. Thank you that you have filled me with joy and excitement as I walk in the garden with you. I am anticipating the many answers to the prayers that I have prayed. I wait, wondering if this will be the year I will see the answer. I know that there will be times that my joy in the journey of life will be ecstasy! I am so grateful for the bountiful provision that will continue to come to me from your hand. I know that all of the surprises and blessings that you have planned for me will thrill my soul! Thank you for all of the positive reassuring words that you spoke to me today. Thank you for the assurance that you will be with me to provide everything I will need to face anything that will challenge my faith. God I praise you for your Word and I ask you to help me do my homework now so that when change comes to my life I will have your Word hidden in my heart so that I might not sin against you. I know that it is your Word that will strengthen and sustain me during the trials of life. It will be your promises that I will need to claim and rely on if I find myself in the darkness of the garden. In the meantime, help me to enjoy the garden everyday as I bask in your Sonshine!
In your Son’s name I pray. Amen.