“The angel of the LORD
encamps all around those who fear him,
and delivers them.”
Psalm 34:7 NIV
“But the Lord is faithful,
and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.”
2 Thessalonians 3:3 NIV
Most of the time my heart’s garden is a beautiful place. However, there are times when pruning is required and rubbish needs to be hauled off and burned. Most of the time I experience extreme joy and comfort in the garden of my heart but sometimes there is deep sorrow and sadness. I have my favorite garden paths that I walk over and over again. In the garden there are benches to sit on to rest. I love to visit the cool streams and beautiful waterfalls because they always seem to refresh my spirit. The back fence of the garden allows me to look out onto a lush meadow and far away in the distance there stands a high mountain range reminding me of God's majesty. Sometimes I can even put on my “God Glasses” and see the ocean from afar! There are also orchards and trees of every variety and size. Most of the time, magnificent color abounds under the canopy of blue skies and fluffy white clouds. Occasionally, dark clouds hang over my spirit when I am in the middle of a dark personal storm that has invaded my life. Yet, when I look closely I see the storm is surrounded by God’s showers of blessings and his banner over me is his rainbow of promise. Even in the midst of the frightening storm I can feel God's love.
When I am in the garden I am always on the lookout for something new, different or interesting that I have not noticed in the garden before. Today was one of those days. I found myself following the sweet scent of a confederate jasmine vine entwined with some sweet tasting honeysuckle. I began pushing aside some of the invasive hanging vines and then, much to my surprise, I see an opening to a dark cave.
Curiosity began to get the better of me as I contemplated entering the dark cold cave. From behind me I heard the Gardner’s voice yell stop! I don’t know why but I continued on even though I knew this might not be a safe place. The darkness made me shudder yet I chose to move on into the cave.
Oddly enough, my eyes began to adjust to the darkness. It has been a hot day in the garden and the coolness of the cave offered relief. I consider leaving the cave but decide to stay longer. It didn’t take me very long to become comfortable and accustomed to the darkness.
For me, life has been a bit trying lately and the isolation of the cave seemed freeing, yet I knew down deep inside that the cave was not a place of freedom. I entertain the thought that no one can see me here. Maybe I can hide in here and avoid the problems of my life that are becoming more than I want to accept. Maybe here in the cave I can even hide from God. Maybe it is within this cave of darkness that I can hide my sinful thoughts and actions. Maybe in this dark cave I can stop being accountable for my actions. Down deep in my heart I know that this is not true because my God is an all knowing, all present, and all powerful God. The truth is my God is right here with me in this cave and I clearly hear his voice speak, “Run quickly – back to the light!”
I know deep within my spirit that I must run back into the light of the garden! If I choose not to run I will be positioning myself to become a target for Satan’s destruction. He will begin his work in my mind and if I am not careful I will succumb to his lies. I will push to the side of my mind the mind of my Master and allow self-centered thoughts to dominate my mind instead of listening to the Master. If I disregard the Way of my Master I will brush aside conviction and excuse my sin so I can justify my behavior. If I remain in the darkness of the cave my spirit will become as cold as the cave. If I linger in the cave Satan will whisper his damaging lies and I will become discouraged and depressed. I know that I am seeking relief from the troubles of life but I also recognize that the cool pleasure I feel in the cave is only deception that is shrouded in darkness. If I give in to my selfish desires and put my faith in the false comfort of the cave, I will eventually find myself sitting isolated on the floor of the cave alone, afraid, and wallowing in self pity!
Yes, the cave in the garden of my heart is a curious place. I dare not remain in this abyss of darkness! I look back at the entrance of the cave and I see the “Son is shinning”. This “Son” is the true light. He is the light that gives me life. I run to the light. Upon exiting the cave I notice that the “Son” is especially bright near the top of the tallest oak tree in the garden. Way on the top of this stately old tree I detect the “Son”, Jesus Christ, the Master Gardner. He calls to me and extends to me in love his nail scared hand of grace.
Jesus speaks, “Paula, you do not need to try to escape life and run into the despair of the cave. Come higher my daughter. Do not be depressed, discouraged, lonely, or overwhelmed. Paula, my child, come higher. Climb up here with me in this tall oak tree.” I begin to climb but I notice that Jesus is sitting way out on a very weak and fragile limb. I cry, “Lord, I cannot come, I am afraid.” Still he says, “Come higher, simply trust me.” Come up here for a little while and experience relief from the cares of your life. I want you to rest in my love and care. Come to me for peace and comfort. Come to me for strength and courage. Come to me for understanding. Come to me for rest and refreshment. Bring me your fear and feel the strong arms of my protection. Even out here on this extremely fragile limb I will be with you. Do not be afraid.
1. What are you currently experiencing in your life that is hard?
2. Are you tempted at times to run to the cool darkness of the cave as a means of escape from the reality of your situation?
3. Do you understand that the cave is a place where Satan will pull you deeper into discontentment, depression and despair?
4. Is Jesus calling you to climb out on a limb to sit with him and to trust him with your fear?
Restore in me the joy of my salvation! Protect me from the darkness that is found in the caves of sin. Protect me from Satan and his lies that promise me nothing of any value. Father, I praise you for the relationship that we have in the garden. I thank you for your faithfulness to meet me in the garden everyday because this is where I find my peace and comfort. Your joy is my strength. Our relationship is my treasure. Jesus my hope in every situation of life is found in you alone. Help me not to fear going out on a limb with you. Father, I know that even if the limb should break and I should fall, still you will be standing on the ground ready to catch me in your everlasting arms of love.
Jesus, in your name I pray. Amen.