MORNING SCRIPTURE READING: Hebrews 6:7-8
My thoughts are on my garden this morning. It has suffered a few days of neglect. The cats have dug up my potatoes and pushed my volunteer pepper plant crooked. I have some weeding to do, and it could all use a good drink of water. It is still mostly a blank canvas waiting for me to decide what to grow. It’s getting so late in the season that if I don’t decide pretty soon the summer heat will narrow the list down to a small variety of chilies. Yanking and raking up the weeds, I’m finding the soil seems to be in perfect condition, nice and fertile and pliable, full of worms and organic matter, if only I could figure out how to keep the cats out of it. Mmmm…I love the smell of dirt! I love the cool mornings, too, when the dew is still on the grass.
I saw it written once that we are never closer to God than when we are in a garden, digging the soil and planting, pulling weeds and watering. We reap what we sow, and (since most of us live near a grocery store) we grow for the pleasure and love of it, but ultimately man grows to eat. Garden to table; that’s the way God intended it, and it pretty much sums up His word (the Bible) as well. It all started for mankind in a garden, and for those faithful, it shall end at God’s table in His kingdom, a feast for the ages.
“For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it…”
I have never been more grateful for rain than when I came to live in a land cracking and parched with drought. My hubbie and I live in the country and have only a well for water. The little brook that trickled past our property when we first bought the place has long ago become just an arid, rocky, river bed overrun with weeds, and so many of our neighbor’s wells have completely dried up. So, I thank God daily for the water that He provides, both from the sky and the earth beneath, and I try hard to be very frugal with it, and careful not to whack that rock twice and make Him angry with us for the waste, or for presuming upon His grace.
Rain, like sunshine, is no respecter of persons. It doesn’t just rain on my grass because I love God. Matthew 5:45 tells us that our Father who is in heaven makes His sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust. This good thing He does, he does for all of us. And I want to always thank Him for showing mercy to us, and giving our poor trees and grasses and gardens and flowers and birds and animals the drink we all so desperately need.
“…and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated…”
Food doesn’t just happen. Oh, we pay it very little mind these days because we have grocery stores on every corner of every little town. Many of us have only to make a list and walk up and down a few air conditioned isles to gather what we can afford into a shopping cart. The abundance of food banks and charities and school lunch programs have also contributed to the idea that getting food is fairly easy. We all, all but our farmers, forget that we all eat by the sweat of someone’s brow. It is sweaty work; believe me.
Someone cleared the brush and boulders from a plot of land and found a source of irrigation. Someone plowed the soil and planted it. Someone constructed a way to water those seeds so they would sprout, and pulled the weeds so they would not choke the seedlings. Someone plucked off the bad bugs from the leaves and cultivated an environment for good and healthy plants. Some became keepers of bees. Some built boxes and beds for worms. Someone knew what to plant in season, and segregated their plants into families that would help each other thrive and be productive, and put nutrients back into the soil that the previous crop depleted.
Because of someone’s hard work, someone else’s worry, someone else’s determination and dedication we all “…receive blessing from God;…”
“…but if [the land] bears thorns and briars, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.”
Are my works FIREPROOF??? When we dawdle to obey, or quit paying attention; when we become lazy and presumptuous, the thorns and briars will take over – the devour-er will come. Over and over again a wise old Solomon warns us, “Laziness casts one into a deep sleep. And an idle person will suffer hunger” Proverbs 19:15. “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest; so shall your poverty come like a prowler, and your need like an armed man” Proverbs 24:33-34
What I felt the Lord was speaking to me this morning was that this big old world is our garden – our work station, and some of us are farmers, and some of us are fishermen, and some of us are writers, and we all have a responsibility to not be idle, but to…
“…show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” Hebrews 6:11-12
We are to be about the Lord’s work until He comes. We are to not grow weary (lazy, sluggish, disheartened), for in due season we shall reap a harvest (and a blessing) if we do not give up (Galatians 6:9; 2 Thes. 3:13). God put us here to be His cultivators, and if we get lazy about doing the work His garden will be good for nothing more than the burn pile…and there is a big old burn pile in earth’s future (John 15:1-8; Matthew 7:19). I don’t want any part of it. I know you don’t either.
My sheep hear My voice, says the Lord. Am I listening for His voice this morning? What is He saying to me? What cultivating does He desire for me to do today?
Oh Lord, please let us not be hearers of the word only, but doers of it (James 1:22). When your Holy Spirit speaks to us, let us not grieve Him (Ephesians 4:30) with our excuses (bitterness, rage, anger, fighting, slander, and malice) until our ears become dull of hearing, and our hearts become hard as rock (Matt 13:15; Acts 28:27; Isa 6:10). Forgive us our sins (he who knows the good to do and does it not, to him it is sin – James 4:17), help us to be filled with the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control) until our cup overflows onto everyone around us.
Have I hurt anyone? Oh Lord, if it is possible, as far as it depends on me, help me to live at peace with all (Romans 12:18). Let us find a way to make peace. Bring them to me privately and let me know what I have done, and tell me how I can fix it.
And Lord, if there is someone out there who needs something that is within my power to give (or to do for them), let our paths cross; help me to be sensitive to Your leading.
As always, protect me and my family from the wiles of the devil, the thief who comes to kill and to steal and to destroy, if he should ask to sift us as wheat today (Luke 22:31) please tell him no, and please Lord, cast him as far from us as the east is from the west. Gird us up with each piece of the spiritual armor (Ephesians 6:10-20) surround us with your holy angels and a hedge of protection (Job 1: 10; Psalm 91), fill us with your Holy Spirit for courage and for boldness to do Your will today. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
EVENING SCRIPTURE READING: Psalm 119:57-60
“You are my portion, O Lord; I have said that I would keep Your words. I entreated Your favor with my whole heart; Be merciful to me according to Your word. I thought about my ways, and turned my feet to Your testimonies. I made haste, and did not delay to keep Your commandments.”
Okay self, how did I do today? What work did my hands find to do (Ecclesiastes 9:10; Colossians 3:23)? Did I do it with all of my might? Did I do it with all of my heart (1 Corinthians 13:1-8)?
YES – Great!!! Go and do likewise tomorrow. Sleep in peace!
NO – God is mercy! May I be as merciful with others as God has been merciful to me. Forgive me, Lord. Wash me in the atoning blood. Anoint me Lord. Lead me Lord. And let me try again tomorrow. Sleep in peace!