In the Garden

I was looking out at my garden after watering today. My trellis is leaning under the weight of the Carolina Orange Jasmine breaking through the squares and shoving it forward precariously. My pillows are piled up high on the love seat under the patio, (from when I brought them to safety before a storm). Unusable because of the nest of mourning doves sitting on top, and the one remaining fledgling that survived that still can’t be disturbed yet. The cushions unmatched, red and some replaced with blue, because of a miscreant Belgian Malinois puppy destroyer. A mishmash of pots, all sizes and colors, with different plants of seemingly no design — yet they still bring me much joy. There is a faint scent of jasmine in the air while I water, and it brings a Scripture to mind.

Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ. 2 Cor 2:14-17

Who is sufficient for these things?

Certainly not me, not without Him.

The iron hummingbird feeder bobs a little in the breeze, sagging from the freshly filled liquid, awaiting a visitor or two. The bougainvillea in the pot is bright fuchsia but has (disappointingly) stayed one height since I planted a couple years ago. I keep hoping for some growth. but it was likely planted in the wrong container. I think on the metaphor I see in our growth (or lack thereof) sometimes as believers. We can be planted in the wrong place to grow, or maybe the wrong gardener tending us. Sometimes many weeds around us which are sucking up the nutrients we need and choking out the plant. But when we are looking towards the Son and getting our water from the Word (Eph 5:26), we will grow again.

The oppressive heat of our Arizona summer came rushing in like a herd of stampeding buffalo across a dusty plain. Dry and overwhelming, so I’m not even sure if or how long some of these plants will survive. My poor purple Jacaranda tree — (purported to be fast-growing), stands at the same height and breadth as last year (or so it seems to me). Again, it is as if it is a parallel of several times in my life where I didn’t seem to budge. But thankfully, He never leaves us or forsakes us. Some seasons, maybe our roots need to deepen or widen. Or we may require pruning or extra water. In my case, the food I was getting was poisonous and not the sincere milk of His Word. We need to turn back to the Lord and His Word in trust that He will do the work when we abide in Him and continue in His Word. Even if the outside world doesn’t see the difference in our growth, when we cooperate with Him, things are changing where they need to be (John 8:31-32).

All these things around my garden testify that I just do not have a green thumb, nor will I ever qualify for a Home and Garden magazine shoot. 🙂 But I still so enjoy my garden, such as it is — even though I had to replace most of the plants that I couldn’t keep alive from the previous year. I live vicariously through looking at the wonderful pictures of my FaceBook friend’s well-tended gardens. I can’t imagine what it will be like one day (1 Cor 2:9).

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

The plastic hummer wind ornament (a gift from a child), intermittently goes from a dead standstill to busily whirling purple wings (when suddenly the wind swoops over the hill, bringing little floating yellow flowers from the surrounding Palos Verde trees). Makes me think of the Holy Spirit spoken by Jesus in John 3:6-8

That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’  

The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

A shadow that lengthens

Shadows provide shade from the intensity of the heat, a respite from the beating sun. We long for the night to come and the temperatures to get better. Another metaphor about the lives of believers as we walk through this world, looking forward to His soon coming. God laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of His hands. Yet we know they shall perish even though God and His Word will endure. Psalm 102 says they wax old like a garment, and they will be changed like we change our clothing.

I love the words from vs. 11,

Our days are like a shadow that lengthens, and we wither away like grass…

We know God is the same, (yesterday, today and forever), He is eternal. And because of Him, believers possess eternal life forever as God promised.

Brings this passage to mind:

“All flesh is as grass,

And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass.

The grass withers, And its flower falls away,

But the word of the Lord endures forever.” 1 Pet 1:24-25

Friend, It is appointed unto each man to die, then the judgment

Every single person will die. But those of us who have believed upon Jesus Christ as our Savior, have been born again of an incorruptible seed, which is the Word of God (1 Pet 1:23). That new man will never perish and does not sin (Please see this short video for an explanation). Our old man does sin and will until the day we die (Rom 7:15-25). One day we will live eternally with Him, given a new body which will never fade away. If you are a believer, spend some time with the One who will properly prune, water and tend to all who are His while we are here.

If you do not know Him, please, before it’s too late, consider what He has done in great love for you (Jn 15:13). Every single human being has sinned (missed God’s perfect mark) in rebellion against Him — our Creator. Some have sinned by not believing He is who He said He was. Others, by believing in a different god, including themselves or their good works as part of getting them to heaven (which is the basis of most religions). But we have all sinned. All of us, and the payment for that? Death. Sin causes death, eternal separation from God (Rom 3:23; 6:23).

God loved the world so much, that He sent His only begotten Son (God come down to earth in the flesh) to pay for our sins. In such a great love, Jesus laid down His life in our place — willingly. He was the perfect sacrifice, sinless and without spot. His death on the cross, His shed blood, were the price paid in full for our eternal forgiveness for all our trespasses against God (Col 2:13-15). Jesus rose again from the dead (as He said, as the Scriptures foretold, and this resurrection was witnessed by many). His victory over sin, death and the grave guarantees all who believe upon Him to save them, the free gift of eternal life (1 Cor 15:3-4). All of our sins were forgiven on His cross, if you will only believe upon Him for that free gift of everlasting life.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. John 5:24

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In the Garden by Alan Jackson

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