Finding Redemption In The Garden
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.
2 Peter 3:18
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
Gardening is hard, dirty work. You either love it or hate it. I love it, and this is the perfect time of year to get started. My experience has shown me that if you plant too early, nothing grows. Plant too late and the heat scorches and cooks your seedlings. The days of not-too-cool and not-too-hot are best for preparation and planting.
I’ll never forget my first year as a green gardener and by “green” I mean novice. I had no experience with plowing, hoeing, and picking. I laughingly refer to that time now as “garden therapy.” It was an amazing, glorious time with God.
When it started, I was broken and hiding from the fall out of a prodigal life. I was at the end of myself. Someone suggested planting a garden, so I agreed. What did I have to lose? I had nothing. Maybe the prodigal son felt that way. He had nothing left. Maybe you have felt the same. Broken. At the end of yourself.
On my knees, hands on the ground, digging in the dirt, low to the earth was where God found me. He didn’t leave me there, however. He rescued me, redeemed and restored me.
It’s no wonder gardens and growing are important in scripture.
Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night he was betrayed (Mark 14:32).
Paul often preached the gospel and encouraged early Christians by using planting and growing as illustrations (1 Corinthians 3:4-8).
Jesus is the Vine and the Father the Gardner (John 15:1).
Planting and growing are designed by God both in a garden and in our hearts. He is the Master Gardener.
If we need love…
If we need forgiveness…
If we need mercy…
He plants them in our heart and waters them with blessings and grace.
One of my favorite hymns is In The Garden, written by C. Austin Miles. The lyrics perfectly describe my first year in the garden. I am sure that’s why I long for gardening season, to hear His voice and share the joy again.
And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own,
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.
God planted in me His love, forgiveness, and mercy. It was hard work, but the reward was great and bountiful.
Having a garden is not required to hear God’s voice and experience His redeeming love. He met me where I was then, hiding in a garden wanting to forget the past. He will meet you where you are, too. It will be hard work. You will get tired and dirty, but keep working. There is a bountiful harvest to come.
My “garden experience” taught me a few things about God’s transforming grace and mercy:
The Soil Must Be Ready
A good garden starts by preparing the soil. It has to be broken up, tilled and turned. If farmers skipped this step the seeds would lay on top of the hard ground and never flourish. God sometimes does the preparing, bringing us to a place of brokenness, softening our hearts for the seed of His grace.
Get Rid of the Weeds
My least favorite chore in the garden is weeding. Removing the invasive, never-ending cycle of weeds that choke the life out of the good plants is exhausting but necessary. In our life, there are “weeds” that invade our thoughts and hearts. Left to grow, they choke out the truth. We must continually renew our minds with His truth, the truth of who we are. Keep believing who you are to God--His beloved daughter--and nothing can take that away.
Be Alert for Predators
One summer raccoons discovered the corn and in one night they mowed down every stalk. They enjoyed a corn fiesta! Keeping predators out of the garden was a constant battle. It is the same with our enemy, Satan. He comes to steal our fruitfulness, to mow down our confidence in who we are as daughters of the One True God. He comes to destroy God’s work in our lives. Fighting predators begin with understanding what keeps them away. Keep praying, keep trusting in God’s love, depend on His strength.
It Takes Time
The hardest part of gardening is not the work; it’s the waiting. It takes a long time for a seed to turn into something to be enjoyed at the dinner table. But there’s no rushing. In the waiting, however, I learned to watch what the Creator was busy doing. Once a sprout emerged, there was something new every day. One tiny leaf then three, then a bloom, and before my eyes, fruit! I learned that during the waiting for healing, God grew me, He changed me from a sprout in faith to fruitful. It may not be visible yet, but God is working. Keep going. Keep looking for Him, and soon you’ll see the ways He is working.
God Did It, Not Me
My hands and effort did not create the garden and its fruit. It is God, our Creator and it is He that deserves the gratitude and glory. I learned this lesson when neighbors with “garden envy” would admire my little patch of heaven. My first thought was, “yeah, that’s me, the master gardener.” Not so. It is God who equips us and strengthens us to do His will. Keep giving thanks and praising the One who completes the transformation of our hearts.
There’s Always More Than Enough
My first crop of vegetables filled a wheelbarrow! It was a glorious day in the garden. There was so much more than my family could eat. So I shared--with my neighbors, with my co-workers, with my church family, anyone willing to accept a tomato or two. I was able to spread what God had given all around. When healing and restoration come, share what God has done in your life with others. You have been given an abundance, not to keep, but to share.
Photo by Stella de Smit on Unsplash
Today, my garden is a raised bed in the backyard, which is all I need as a reminder of God’s work on me in the garden. He restored me and rebuilt me, and He will restore you as well. Do you need restoration healing? God is there, waiting for you. He is ready to help you plant the seed, tend the tender growth and rejoice with you in the bounty.
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PRAYER FOR YOU: Dear Loving Creator, praise you for the gifts you give, for the bounty in a relationship with You, our Father. Speak to us where we are right now. For us who need healing, whisper comfort to us. We welcome your healing and give you all the glory.