I do not have a green thumb whatsoever, but wish I did.
Every spring, my husband and children give me a potted Easter lily. In the beginning, I enjoyed them until they died from a lack of water (my bad) in the foil-lined plastic pot with a large ribbon tied around it. One year, thinking I had nothing to lose, I planted the lily. Five years later, I continue to plant my special gifts with fingers crossed.
Nearby, I wanted to spruce up a small corner of our yard so I planted Calalilies. Truly, if anything is going to live on our property it must be pretty much self-sufficient, drought-proof and frost-proof.
About this time every year, I am AMAZED when these little beauties pop up and show off their gorgeous colors and form.
As I stood and stared at them today, I had a thought.
Is this what it’s like, God? Is this what happens when we put just a little work into our hearts? It’s like You take our effort and multiple it beyond measure! When I forgive someone. Ask for forgiveness. Help someone. Seek You. Decide one more time not to quit the race. Love the unlovely. Bite my tongue. Give it all over to You. Ask for wisdom. Worship You.
Salvation is not earned by works. God doesn’t love me more or less depending on my actions and words. His grace is steady. Faithful. Unwavering.
But, like with the prodigal son who decided to return home, and his father saw him far off and ran to him and prepared a banquet (Luke 15:11-31). The widow’s son collected jars for the oil that kept flowing and flowing (2 Kings 4:1-7). Moses took the first step out of Egypt (Exodus 12:31-42). Abraham packed up and moved to a place he’d never been (Genesis 12:1-9). Mary believed the angel who told her the good news of great joy about the baby inside her virgin womb (Luke 1:26-38). Peter followed Jesus even after Peter admitted his own inadequacy (Luke 5:1-11).
Just like the plants I planted in the ground, so God sees His children trying to follow Him. Our hearts, like my garden, are rich to receive Him. After all, they were made to be His temple.
A little effort in an area on our part and God runs with it to produce something beyond our wildest dreams. Our effort is our obedience.
Looking at these flowers every year, I am encouraged and challenged to keep pursuing God. To continue letting Him perform heart surgery on me, if you will, in the areas that have grown dry and hard. When I let Him til the soil, pull the weeds and cut back the overgrowth of sin, He has space to grow something beautiful that I could never imagine.
I write this today with a garden in bloom in my heart. Is my life perfect? Absolutely not. However, buds and blooms burst forth in shapes and fragrances I never knew it could by way of healed forgiveness, unexplained peace, raptured joy, and rest knowing God truly is love and is sovereign.
Some of these blooms have taken years to take root. They’ve taken A LOT of surrendering while God tilled and tilled and tilled the weeds and rocks out of my heart. It’s taken me holding my breath while He pours from heaven the grace and mercy I’ve needed for certain buds drink in to thrive.
I’ve learned, and continue to learn, that God really is trustworthy (2 Samuel 7:28). He really does work all things good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28). He really is looking over the world to see who He can encourage (2 Chronicles 16:9). He truly doesn’t forget us or our pain (Psalm 34:18). He is faithful when I’m not (Psalm 89:7-8). Loving when I can’t (Romans 5:8). Strong when I am weak (Psalm 18:2). He is good all the time – even in the midst of baddest bad (Psalm 86:15; 2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
Just like the blooms that take me by surprise each year, so does the gardening that God continues to do in my heart. Although I’ve left the lilies to fend for themselves, God has never – will never – leave me or you (Deuteronomy 31:6).
So what’s the point of all this gardening He does in our hearts?
We will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor (Isaiah 61:3) in colors and fragrances and forms we have yet to imagine. When people look at our lives they will see the hand of the loving Gardener who makes us beautiful.