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Lessons From the Garden

Oh the many wonders of God that can be gleaned from creation. It is His handiwork and bears the mark of His nature, as well as lessons of life in the Spirit. Working with unruly dogs has taught me much about my own unruly soul and so has my backyard.

Spring and summer provide a bounty of harvest in this regard. All winter long, my plants look lifeless and dead, but under the ground or inside the wood unseen things are happening. Soon signs of life begin to bud and then one day, as if right on cue, it happens. The call of the Creator is given and the creation responds with delight. Declaring His glory, each plant obeys its unique design by bursting forth in glorious splendor. First the flowering cherry tree with its display of powdery pink balls of puff. Then the lilacs. They never disappoint, with their deep shades of purple and their heavenly scent. Soon the peonies and others will all “walk in the good works that God prepared in advance for them to do.”

As each lovely plant comes into bloom, I marvel at their beauty. I take clippings and bring them inside to adorn my table. Even in death, every blossom serves to bring a new kind of life within the walls of my home. Do the flowers realize what joy and blessing they provide by their humble sacrifice?

Even if I let them live out the remainder of their days on the vine, their moment of glory is short lived. In a few days or weeks, the flowers wither, fade and fall to the ground from which they came. It will be a full year before I see them again and my house is filled with their beauty once more.

So many things to ponder: How I want to be like the plants in my yard. I want to trust the One who made all things seen, and who attends and nurtures even what is unseen. I want to trust Him when circumstances or relationships look barren, lifeless; without hope. Behind the veil of my own comprehension, life is always stirring because God is always at work. If God makes beautiful things out of dirt, I can surely wait and watch with anticipation the beauty He will make out of this.

I want the life of Christ in me to burst forth in glory at the call of God. I want to obediently bloom wherever He plants me regardless of who sees or doesn’t see. I want to delight to do His will even when the Gardener gets out His sharp and painful tools to prune or to take some clippings. Whether in life or in a multitude of daily deaths, I want God to arrange me to His liking. And when it’s time to let go of the fading petals, I want to willingly relinquish them. Lillias Trotter said, “…to try to keep the withering blossoms would be to cramp and cripple your soul. It is loss to keep when God says, ‘Give’”

To bloom is one thing. That is the stuff of glory. But the spiritual life isn’t complete unless there is dying and letting go. It’s only when the flower abandons itself unto death that the fruit can form in its place, thus continuing the cycle of life. "Lord you know my heart and how dying and letting go of what I want always feels horrible and frightening. Nevertheless, help me to do it and to keep doing it. I deliver myself to the same process You have illustrated so beautifully in the lilies of the field, the rose of Sharon, the kernel of wheat. It’s the very same process you demonstrated with your life. I want to follow You and have hope for the beauty and the fruit You will bring forth in your perfect time. Amen"

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