It had been a long two weeks in which I had fought a losing battle with the flu. My bodily reserves were drained dry, my ribs ached from constantly coughing. I kept telling myself to get up and get going again, knowing that many others carry on while enduring much much worse ailments. One morning, I took a walk around my yard and gardens, lamenting over the work which hadn’t been done. Just that exertion put me back in my reclining chair. The spring weather had arrived, and the gardens were calling to me, but I couldn’t answer.
Each day I regained a little more strength and coughed a little bit less. I recruited my grandson to rake the lawn, and I took my quilting project out on the deck to sit in the sun and work on it, thinking I would cheer myself by at least getting something done.
This morning, I added my favorite worship music to the quilting. I was totally refreshed, hearing the inner voice of the Lord calling me to our “secret garden”. I had gone almost two weeks without having a time of communing and worship with Him! Not only because I had been sick, but because I also had found myself watching more of the national news while wrapped up in my blanket. With a proliferation of natural calamities such as volcanoes, earthquakes, landslides and avalanches, as well as rioting in major U.S. cities because of unrest and lawlessness, I had unthinkingly allowed myself to be caught up in the stress and distress of it all. It was starting to affect my sleep and my thought patterns. I was caught up in the problems, and not in the Solver of Problems.
The Lord drew me to Himself this morning, and He said, “My garden is still right here in the same place. It has not been removed. The same peace and security await you that have always been there for you. I am here. Come back. No matter what goes on around you in this world, no matter how uncomfortable you are in your body, nothing has changed in this place. The birds are still singing, the fresh breeze is still blowing though. I call you to the same innocent simplicity that I have always loved in you. I created you simple and innocent. It is in this uncluttered place–this secret garden–that you will be strengthened and equipped for what I will set before you.”
So, even with the possibility of others thinking me over-simplified, and over-innocent, I set my face to return to the quiet place in the garden. In my quiet times of worship and saturation in His presence, I offer the type of prayer He desires of me.
Following is a piece I wrote over ten years ago. I hope it speaks to your spirit as it has to mine, that we have each a unique and specified place and purpose in the heart of God.
There are myriads of flowers in God’s Garden, and it is teeming with life. He is the Master of infinite variety and design.
Around the perimeter of the Garden is a hedge – to protect, to enhance, to provide a lovely backdrop. Even the hedge has blossoms of beauty among its thorns.
There are quiet, unassuming, shy flowers who only bloom in the shadows – Lilies of the Valley and spring Violets. Their heady fragrance permeates the garden like costly perfume. God is especially fond of these.
Bright and profuse palettes of brilliant color dance with the eye of the viewer; from the bold flash of Tulip, Iris, and Daffodil who gladden the soul with their merry faces, enthusiastically welcomed after the drab dreariness of the fading winter season, bringing a smile to the face of the Gardener.
The Crocuses, Hyacinths and Blue Squill pop up to inspire with their brave call to early duty amidst the last remnant of winter snows. Bloodroot graces the bare spring soil with her lovely white flowers, and Jack-in-the-Pulpit sends out his message of hope, so inspiring to the Gardener.
There is the Rose of Sharon, who only blooms in the desert places, and the Mountain Lily who only blooms upon the most forbidding and remote peaks, exclusively for the eyes of the Gardener. He basks in their devotion with deep delight.
There are the Morning Glories, who awaken with great joy and turn shining faces toward the sun, but close up tightly when the day becomes warm. They bring joy to the Gardener, who comes early in the day so as not to miss His encounter with them.
There are Ferns, who don’t bloom at all, but fill in all the spaces in God’s living bouquet with their lacy greenery, thriving even among the rocks with the other Groundcovers. Their glory is to soften the harsh bare places, and to soothe and rest the eye. The Gardener is especially fond of them.
Hostas grace the garden with their enduring strength and dependability. They are adaptable, and will grow in just about any type of soil, environment, and light conditions. Their lush leaves and lily-like blooms make them greatly gratifying to the Gardener.
There are Roses – with their crowning beauty of form, depth and richness of hue, and intoxicating fragrance. Paradoxically, their glory is contrasted with piercing thorns…Beauty surrounded by Pain. They bring blessing and glory to the Gardener, and He marvels at their expression of worship.
There are Baby’s Breath, Bridal Wreath, Astilbe and Coral Bells, clusters of dainty blooms which add delicacy and contrast to the arrangement and lend an intricate, fairy-tale effect. Each floret is a unique work of art in itself, of which the Gardener takes careful notice, but their overall effect enhances all the others by lending softened background to their bold beauty. The Gardener is especially fond of their combined kaleidoscope of color.
In the very center point of the Garden is a mighty Oak, a faithful and strong captain who stands immovable, dependable and constant. Its branches and leaves form a protective canopy overhead, allowing exactly the right proportions of sunlight and shade to penetrate the Garden, for the benefit of all the varieties of plants, flowers and other living creatures beneath its watchcare. The Oak is a living picture of the Gardener, its creator, who is especially fond of him.
There are Sunflowers, who stretch and reach for the sun, always keeping their eyes focused and fixed upon its glorious light. The Gardener reaches back for them, returning their embrace with endless delight.
There are Mosses, soft, green and cool, which only grow on the darker and colder side of the trees, while everyone else is seeking out the sunnier places. Someone has to be willing to grace the shadows. Peace permeates their path, even though the hummingbirds, bees and butterflies rarely come near for a visit. The Gardener Himself walks barefoot upon them when He seeks a quiet place of repose to rest awhile and communicate with His friends.
An action-filled hub in the Garden is the birdbath in the midst of the area where the brightest sun-seekers live. It’s a busy place, drenched with song and fluttering and the splashing of brilliant water-diamonds in the sunlight. There the Gardener sings and splashes with His creation in utter abandon.
By contrast, the Ferns and Mosses would wither and die in such a warm, well-lit setting; and the Sunflowers would never choose to trade their sunny spot for such shadowy places. Each has been situated in the Garden precisely in the perfect place for their own success and satisfaction. The Gardener has provided what each resident needs, down to the most intricate detail. His Garden is vast and brimming with infinite varieties of environments and habitats, each perfectly suited to the needs of all those who dwell therein. There is room for all to bloom exactly where He has planted them, mingling fragrance and beauty in glorious unity.
He is especially fond of each one of them. And they are especially fond of Him, demonstrating their love by becoming all that He has created them to be, fulfilling their destinies, and making Him smile.
Let’s pray as we linger in the garden:
Dear Lord, You are the Master Gardener, and Your garden path leads us through the perfect environment in which we may seek our delight in fellowship with You. Look at us, Lord, we are all so very different from each other! Yet we know that You have planned each of us in special care and love to bloom in the manner and environment best suited for us. Lord, look with delight upon Your garden today and receive the worship we offer You with the color and scent of our lives. Let each of us be content and satisfied with the way You have created us, and thankful for our unique contribution to Your heart. Be pleased to walk with us here in the garden, in the cool of the day, and we will give You all of the honor and praise. In Jesus’ name, Amen.