God, the Gardener
October 8, 2014
Joyce Louise Thomas
The beauty of God’s creation gives me a lot of joy. But while I absolutely love the springtime, I used to dread fall, because it meant that winter was not too far behind. Anyway, a few years back I reprimanded myself for thinking like that, and I’ve been working to enjoy the wonderful autumn time more. And it is so beautiful! God blesses us with the extravagance of the seasons, each showing us in a different way how much He loves us! You know, God didn’t have to make our world as lovely as He did. He could have been—shall we say—much more parsimonious in the giving of his blessings. But, no!, that’s not the way our God is! By so many wonderful means, his blessings overflow our lives!
I love to see things grow. I just can’t quite help it. When I go to Lowe’s I’ve always got to check out the plant department. Maybe something is on sale and—even if it’s looking a bit droopy—there’s a good chance I can nurse it back to life. Actually, I spend a lot of time working in my yard—my garden, if you will. Last month we had two very large maples cut down in our backyard. And then, yesterday in their place we planted a winter king hawthorn. Right now it’s just a scraggly teenager, but I can already imagine its developing beauty. It’s supposed to be a four season tree—with white flowers in the spring, leathery green summer foliage, and tiny little orange-red fruits in the fall. Even in the winter it’s supposed to look pretty with its exfoliating bark. I can’t help it—I’m just a plain ol’ gardener at heart.
If you think about it, I think you will agree with me that God is also a gardener—on a very grand scale. In Genesis 1 (NIV) we read:
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
Can’t you imagine the intense excitement God had when he got to this point in the process of creating the universe? He was about to place man and woman on the earth, the culmination of all his work. All was prepared. And in his desire to prepare the perfect honeymoon spot, he made a garden!
But, just as in my garden, weeds grew in His garden, too! The weeds of sin blemished his beautiful garden and caused sadness and disappointment. But he didn’t give up. (He didn’t give up because that’s just the way He is. After all! He’s a gardener and he always will lovingly tend his plants so they can grow to be beautiful and fruitful.) He chose one small little plant and said, “I will especially nurture this one—I will shower it with my love; I will bless it, dig around it, fertilize it, and provide for all its needs.” He took that little plant, a nation of nomads-turned-slaves, and brought them to a promised land—Beulah, a new and lovely garden. We read about it in Deuteronomy 11 (NIV):
10 The land you are entering to take over is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come, where you planted your seed and irrigated it by foot as in a vegetable garden. 11 But the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven. 12 It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end.
God had hoped that this little plant would bless the other plants in his garden and help them to grow, too. But, again, he was disappointed. And, again, the weeds of sin diminished the beauty of his garden. At the end of Judges we read: In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit. There was little concern with doing right. Instead, everyone selfishly chose his own path.
Many years have passed. Our God, the Gardener, still is busy tending his plants. It is no surprise to us that in spite of the fact that, ‘way back then—while his specially chosen plant did not flourish and grow—still He continued to lovingly tend His garden. And in his perfect time, He gave us Jesus, the Hope of the World, the perfect flower in his garden.
Jesus sets for us the example. He shows us that we, too, can grow into beautiful flowers and yield productive fruit in God’s garden. He channels God’s love to each of us in very personal ways, so that, even though we have been damaged by the weeds of sin, broken down, and all but destroyed, we can be reclaimed and re-created; made anew and so lovely in God’s garden.
God the Gardener has placed us in this tiny bit of his garden—in Wilmore and in Kentucky. Regularly he gives us sunshine and rain and fresh air to breathe. Our drinking water is safe. Our town is a happy place to raise our families. The crocuses welcome each new springtime and the falling leaves mark the success of another harvest. These are gifts given to us that we might know the extravagances of His overflowing love. Sometime this week, please take a few minutes, slow down and breathe deeply. Consider the beauty of the garden God has created for you and offer a prayer of thanks.
And, then, too, let us thank Him for the transforming power of his amazing grace that reclaims us from sin, plants us in the nurturing soil of his love, and allows us to grow into men and women of great inner beauty.
Around us we can still see weeds growing, still blemishing the landscape. But we know this is just a passing moment. God has promised to us a new heaven and a new earth—a place free of the ravages of sin.
I conclude with this beautiful passage from Isaiah 65 (NIV):
17 “See, I will create
new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be remembered,
nor will they come to mind.
18 But be glad and rejoice forever
in what I will create,
for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight
and its people a joy.
19 I will rejoice over Jerusalem
and take delight in my people;
the sound of weeping and of crying
will be heard in it no more.
20 “Never again will there be in it
an infant who lives but a few days,
or an old man who does not live out his years;
the one who dies at a hundred
will be thought a mere child;
the one who fails to reach[a] a hundred
will be considered accursed.
21 They will build houses and dwell in them;
they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
22 No longer will they build houses and others live in them,
or plant and others eat.
For as the days of a tree,
so will be the days of my people;
my chosen ones will long enjoy
the work of their hands.
23 They will not labor in vain,
nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune;
for they will be a people blessed by the Lord,
they and their descendants with them.
24 Before they call I will answer;
while they are still speaking I will hear.
25 The wolf and the lamb will feed together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox,
and dust will be the serpent’s food.
They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,”
says the Lord.
Thanks be to God!