Southern spring, now summer has burst out with flowers. My husband and I are not master gardeners, but we plant, water, and then enjoy flowers of many kinds. Every year we experiment with different flower ideas on our small patio and deck. Last year, our gladiolas were not a success. Only two long-stem blooms emerged from the twenty-or so bulbs. We also planted two small Hydrangeas and this year they bloomed into beautiful, rounded visions of lavender/blue.
Our 7-foot-tall gardenia bush busted out with fragrances and blooms more plenteous than ever. The blooms weighed so heavily on the branches that we had to encircle the bush with rope and tie it together. And insects!! They have enjoyed a field day eating holes in the leaves of our rose bushes. I think I have now stopped their leafy food frenzy with a killer spray.
Anyone who enjoys gardening looks at weeds as an unwelcome guest. They invade anywhere they like, ruining a lovely scene. Pulling weeds is my least favorite task but I am always happy with the results. Panting and pulling in the hot sun, means that later I can sit under our patio umbrella, take long sips of water or iced tea, while taking in the beauty of God’s floral handiwork. The sounds of our small fountain and songs of birds visiting Paul’s feeders create a full picture of shalom.
Often, simple analogies come to mind when I am gardening. Here's what surfaced this morning. The Lord created a magnificent palate of nature’s beauty for us. However, the magnificence of His beautiful sacrifice, the red of His shed blood, redeems and covers us with His snow-white palate of hope. God on the cross. The Perfect Lamb hanging there as our Substitute for sin’s dark grip.
Beginning my journey with Jesus at seventeen, I discovered that it was not a straight line. Yes, flowers have filled my life. The mission field, wonderful jobs, friends. Nevertheless, weeds have sprung up many times. Some weeds popped up because of my inattention to the Lord, some weeds that had nothing to do with my neglect or sin, but from the outside…wild weeds of pain.
When I chose to turn away from the Lord for five years, I lived a self-imposed winter. Years later, a winter of sorrow with empty arms was followed by the glorious springs of two miracle adoptions.
Some weeds cover life like kudzu vines draping over trees in the south. Or many big, ugly weeds stubbornly infest marriages. In our marriage, we found that the Master Gardner kept planting His gorgeous blooms ofhealing, helping us pull out the stubborn weeds. He always provided His love-and His correction-tending the garden of our lives. With His enabling, we kept choosing outrageous commitment to save our love. Now those commitments have lasted 45 years already.
Yes, weeds of sins, pain, and pop-up problems where winters seem like an endless garden of despair. Always though, the Master Gardner returns with gifts of His Presence, the spring of renewed hope and strength.
Hosea 14:5-6 is a precious promise that comes from God’s heart through the minor prophet Hosea. God told Hosea to remain faithful to his wayward wife, in essence to seek her out, redeem, and forgive her unfaithfulness. It is a timeless picture of God’s redemption, saving us from ourselves, our sins, and life’s weeds.
“I will be like dew to the people of Israel. They will blossom like flowers. They will be firmly rooted like cedars from Lebanon. They will be like growing branches. They will be beautiful like olive trees. They will be fragrant like cedars from Lebanon.”