Up from the darkness you push through as your leaves unfurl to meet the sun. Fragile were your beginnings in that dark and unseen place but nothing will hinder as you reach for the light, beckoning lower still as love lifts you to new heights of joy and freedom.
Have you stopped by to see us lately? If so, I’m sure I’ve invited you on a tour of my garden. It’s a bit of a stretch of the imagination now, but one day with much patience, love and care and some help from the Lord in its design I picture it to be a place of peace and joy where I can sit with you and chat a while, as we drink our tea. I pray that the conversation will lead to my hope in Jesus and how I found my way to rest in his love.
That however, is a story for the future. For now, let’s return to the garden.
As we weave between the stems and blooms, they seem to wave as we pass by. Moved by the rustle of the breeze or by the whirring buzz of a hummingbirds wing. Bees and butterflies chase. Flowers burst forth their song to enrich this bit of earth that we get to call our own.
I feel a closeness to my Lord here. His garden parables running through my mind or old truths newly discovered as I work this wild, messy and unpredictable place.
I find myself wondering if I’m drawn to these plants because of my mothers legacy. In all her broken woundedness, her plants were always a place of pride, solace and accomplishment. Gifted at growing and reviving all things green, she had great success and love for the plants she so carefully tended.
Or is it a more distant legacy? Does my soul long for humanities own garden beginning. The ancient memory of our souls for the intimacy and fellowship we shared with our Lord before sin changed the way we would encounter this earth until Jesus returns.
Maybe it’s a little of both but anyone who knows me at all, knows my garden is one of my favorite places to be.
Despite its brutality.
This lovely place with all the colors and joy isn’t always a place of lovely serenity. Even here the suffering of our world dares to trod.
The rain, wind and cold seem like they will never end.
The Sun scorches and withers tender leaves.
Weeds choke and do their best to make things ugly.
Blooms that take your breath away one day are faded and limp before you can commit their beauty to the memory of your heart.
Death steals new life.
I watch as baby birds who brought us so much joy are ripped from their nest for a predators hunger.
Some would tell me they are just birds and that they may be, but then I remember that not even one sparrow falls to the ground apart from the watchful eye of our Father. Even the little birds are precious to Him, but not as dear as His sons and daughters.
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Matthew 10: 29-31
As that little bird died I found myself on my knees, crying out against God. Broken hearted for those sweet babies but fighting my own fears that there is no safety here. If those tiny birds couldn’t be safe in the walled protection of their birdhouse, how would there ever be any hope for any of us. I thought I needed a safe place. A fortress where suffering and loss couldn’t touch us for a time and my days could continue just the way I had pictured and planned.
While I watched that mama bird, confused and searching for her baby I saw in her my own vulnerable heart, weary from all that we’ve lost. Beaten and bruised by a place with no certainty of my next moment or in the lives of the ones I love. I felt as if the Lords hand was heavy against me and in that moment it seemed as if hope was more of a dream than a reality.
Oh, I continued to walk with Jesus. I praise Him and I love Him. But something began to stir beneath my outward Christianity. Doubt, fear, compromise and a base desire to self protect, self sooth, self reflect…..and self sabotage.
When I turn my focus on self to try and make sense of what is going on around me it inevitably leads me to the darkened corners of my mind and heart. My feet begin to slip, my foundations begin to shake. Unhealthy thoughts grow like thorns that prick the tender places of my heart that I have allowed to stray from the protection of God’s truth.
I find myself putting His goodness and faithfulness on trial. If He loves me would this happen? If He never leaves or forsakes me why would He allow that? Does my God whom I love cause me harm?
Haven’t so many of us played judge and jury to the most High?
Thankfully, the words of El Shaddai pour over my heart like a gentle spring rain and I remember what He taught me once again.
“He is the Rock, His works are perfect, and all His ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He.” Deuteronomy 32:4
My mind clears and I realize that my wrestle is not with God, but with my own wandering heart. He has never left me or turned His hand against me. Instead I have cried out against Him when things don’t go as I have planned. As if I have the wisdom to know which way is best.
What is the answer to this question of suffering that has hobbled the minds of people since sin took root? The answer was then and the answer will always be Jesus. The one who was, who is and who is to come.
He is my here. He is my now. He is my hope, my safety and my song. He is my refuge in this world where grief and loss cast persistent shadows.
I never have to fear all the trials that I face, because I have a Savior that understands and has overcome by way of the cross.
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, and as one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned-every one-to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth. By oppression and judgement He was taken away; and as for His generation, who considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made His grave with the wicked and with a rich man in His death, although He had done no violence, and there was no deceit in His mouth.
My Lord suffered far more than I could ever comprehend. He chose to walk the path that would lead to our redemption. For that I give Him my life. For that I give Him my trust. For that I give Him my worship.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2
I learned recently that the tomb where Jesus was laid was in a garden. Somehow it didn’t surprise me. It felt like one of those truths that I should have always known. In a garden we fell. In a garden my Lord rose in perfect authority and resurrection power to offer us full redemption and the forgiveness of our sins if only we would turn from our sin to the Living God.
Isn’t it just like Him to bring beauty from ashes?
Isn’t it just like Him to take heartache and turn it into magnificent glory?
Tomorrow as I walk through my garden of tattered leaves and more than a few painful memories I will remember that my Jesus saw the joy that would come after His suffering. My Jesus knew the beauty that would come after His pain.
And I will rejoice in the glorious and unfading hope of my Lord and King.