I found many years ago that when I linger in the garden, it is a form of being still for me. We all hear God best when we are still. Life is busy and the demands of life are a regular facet and can draw the best of us when God wants the best for him. I don’t sit still well and I found when I lived in a little house with a little garden on the other side of town, on my knees in the flower bed was a great place to be. Not just because I love plants and flowers and decorating the yard. It was also because every time I ventured out to the dirt it became my oasis…my escape…a refuge. My garden became the place I could always count on for refreshment of my soul. I could still move and be active while I prayed, worshipped, meditated and listened. Every time…God would whisper to my heart the things He needed to speak. It was, always has been, and is still a place where He enlightens me and teaches me.
I learn from the Master Pen as He scripts His plans for me upon my inward man.
Over the summer I spent very little time in the garden. I still spent time with the Lord, but again, something extra special about that time in the yard. Something else I like to do is bring my ipod out with me and I almost always select Rick Pino. Today it was “Angels Awakening”. I knew it was going to be a big task so I got after it early, before it got hot. I was equipped with all the right tools for the job and I knew what I had to do. ..
My front yard is sculpted like an English garden. It is beautiful, when properly cared for. An English garden, if you don’t know, has a lot of plants that need shaping and molding on a regular basis. Manicured to say the least….it is not a low maintenance yard style. If I had designed the yard, it would be a little less work with lots more flowers. But I love it just the same. It is a beautiful gift and I am grateful.
In the midst of all its beauty, while I was away, some crab grass decided to imbed itself into the Fortnight Lily that nestles right on the front walk of my garden. It is a very large and mature Lily. Fortnight Lily is one of my absolute all time favorite garden plants. It is so interesting to look at, spiking stems with tiny white flowers at the end. Not to mention the best part, they are super low maintenance. The crab grass has been trying to take root in this plant for a while. I had been managing it, but hadn’t taken the time to truly dig in at the source of the root and get it out. I hadn’t done so because the plant is enormous and is seated right next to a large rock and a small sculpted pine tree. To dig the crab grass out would require digging up some of the plant. I knew it would be a task. I was prepared now, ready with the right tools and up before the heat of the sun. In the garden I went.
The plan was to dig out the entire plant in two or three large sections to be transplanted to the back yard. This plant spreads and multiplies so it is easy to divide and replant somewhere else. As I began, I had to manipulate all the leggy ends of the crab grass (it was so bad it was branching out and digging burrows into the dirt spreading to the neighboring ground cover plants). It was a tangled mess. First I cut away at the crab grass and de-rooted the outer edges. Now, I had my spade in hand, ready to get a workout!
It didn’t take long for me to realize that the plant would be very challenging to dig at for a few reasons. First, the tree and rock were so tight against the plant I couldn’t get the spade in between. Second, the opposite side of the Lily was a thin wood border that separated the edge of the flowerbed from the lawn, clearly showing the boundary lines. I did not want to damage it at all.
I eyed the project closely.
I monitored my options.
I poked around each side looking for the best angle to get into the dirt at the base of the plant.
I really wanted to keep it in tact so I could plant it in a better location. It was no use, as I worked I was getting small chunks of the plant out. At that rate I would have a thousand small Lily plants and there is no way I’d bother transplanting all of that. I was afraid I was going to lose my plant. I walked to the garage to retrieve yet another tool…the electric garden clippers. I decided the best way to find the right placed to dig would be to cut all the spiking leaves of this botanical delight. This was the only perceived way to save any of the root base. It would be ugly for a while, but it is truly a resilient variety. I knew it would bounce back. Something happened as I walked to the garage. I heard the small whisper of my heart give me an instruction. There was a way! I did not have to hack the plant down to make this work…I was to find the path of least resistance and with small and deliberate action I could dig up the plant. So that’s what I did. One side had an opening to the base of the plant. I did lose a lot of little sections, but as I kept going it began to seemingly cooperate! The plants roots loosened more and more with each portion I penetrated with my implement. The soil began to cooperate too as it became looser and looser…softening….softening…responding to the lead of the tool. The best is what happened next. As I dug into the last portion of the plant, the part that was the true heart of the Lily, it came out gently, in tact, one heaping portion of my plant! I carefully pulled it out and loaded it into my yard wagon. With my surgeons gloves (gardening gloves) on my hands I carefully combed my fingers through the heart of the plant and removed the crab grass that had fixed itself so close to the heart without hurting the plant itself. I was so happy I listened to the quiet Voice...I was overjoyed!
Of course I have an analogy for my story. I have learned from God so much about people from gardening. Things come along that are meant to entangle us. Crab grass looks like grass. To the untrained eye or in the beginning stages of growth, crab grass can pass itself off as lawn. But it isn’t…it is a weed. Sometimes weeds come into our life and move in close to our heart. We allow it in because we don’t reognize it as a weed (or something bad for us). Over time as crab grass grows it becomes obvious it is a weed…because it is ugly. Weeds that sprout in our life eventually show themselves for what they are…ugly. This “weed” can be anything. It can be our own thoughts, attitudes, actions. It can be a relationship that isn’t healthy. It can be a situation at work, a health issue…any problem.
This is why it is so important to regularly check our own heart and ask God to search our heart, expose any weeds in us and to also pray over our heart, our mind, and our relationships. God can bring you friends, bring you wisdom and guidance, bring you solutions, bring you Peace, Comfort, Rest. He can and will bring you all of these things. He will bring your heart Joy and Love. He can make you laugh and He can be your best friend. God wants to protect you and bless you. Maybe you don’t feel you hear God so clear, or when you do hear him you lack the confidence to know. Do you find yourself having a crisis of belief? Do you ask yourself questions like, “was that me or was that God?” Those questions are good to ask, but ask God to reveal or confirm to you what is you and what is him. As you practice this discipline He grows your ability to discern between the two and strengthens your confidence in his voice. It is like speaking to a very close friend. If they call on the phone…okay if they call on an old school phone with no digital recognition (ugh…technology)…you would recognize their voice because you are close and you know their voice well. The same is true for God. You will also know if it is God by the fruit. When it is from God it will never ask or require you do something outside the heartbeat of God. It will always protect your purity and innocence so to speak. Like my garden, He won't require you to cross the boundary lines when making choices and decisions. He will give guidance and protect you, like I did my plant. Just like a true friend, God won’t ask of you anything or put you in any situation or temptation you cannot handle. He will, however, give you access to himself, his resources, his help, provision, vision and His tools. God is just good that way! He wants to help you, not hurt you.
One more thing before I close. The Bible says you have not because you ask not. I’ve learned myself, as one with a lot of Belief. Sometimes I don’t ask because I believe it will happen so strongly, I skip steps in the process. Does that make sense? I know something will happen so I stop praying about it or asking God about it. I am quickened and realize I need to ask, not just believe. The same is true if you are doubting or struggling with something you did ask for but haven’t received. Don’t walk away from God. He is still listening. He is still there. When you approach the Throne of Grace think of the Bible story of Moses. Moses was told of God to speak to the Rock and it would pour out streams of living water for the people to drink. Imagine that!
God is the only Rock you can drink from!
However, Moses struck the rock and God became angry and removed Moses from entering the Promise Land. After every thing Moses did for Israel and God he was done. Many people struggle with this but I think God had many reasons. Ultimately he is God, I try not to question because I have not his mind. There is a valuable lesson for all of us to hear today. When we approach the Throne of Grace God responds favorable when we speak to Him. He doesn’t want to be struck or demanded. He doesn't want us to be stiff and rigid like that stick Moses used. He does not want to be commanded as though we had authority over him. He doesn’t operate like that. Though He has all the wealth and power of the land…he is gentle of heart and tender of speech. Lace your requests with moisture to the King of Kings. Give him His due praise and see what the Mighty hand of the Father gives to you. The gift is much better than you realize.
Sow seeds of love deep within your heart. Soften the soil. Do not become hard to the things and ways of God. You are His Beloved and you have captivated his heart.