Lessons from dear friends (He walks with me in the garden)
Growing a garden
My fascination with flowers started to manifest quite late in my life. I remember I was in College when my whole world turned floral (ha ha!). It started out as a mere appreciation that exploded into a full blown adoration. From floral prints to decorating everything I own (including my room) with flowers, and now to actually planting a garden. Furthermore, I never expected that God has something bigger in mind. Now I continually see that my flowery occupation has a higher purpose that I never expected it to have. And in this humble article, I would like to share some of the lessons God has been teaching me through my garden. God really has a strong yet sweet way of sanctifying us, if only we are to heed His voice. For though obedience never assures daily sunshine but it does promises a fellowship so sweet that no glittering scheme of this world nor the lying comfort of our past inclinations could ever outshine. So may all be blessed and encouraged! (For God’s glory!) Let us now walk together in the garden.
1. Forsaken Miracles
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
let the field exult, and everything in it!
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy.-Psalm 96:11-12
Read Job chapter 38
A new perspective
This is probably the first lesson I’ve learned. I think many Christians are often discouraged because of the great amount of forsaken miracles. We no longer choose to see through the eyes of faith; instead of looking to Jesus we stare at the landfills of sin and hopelessness. If only we take a moment to be still and feel the ground beneath us, hear the birds above us, behold the flowers beside us, and feel the air that surrounds us. If you think that is not enough then look a little closer, hear a little clearer and feel a little better. For the very moment that you are doubting, roots are dancing as the fertile soil gives it an embrace, seeds are dying not towards decay but to burst out in new life; flowers are blooming to welcome both weary and joyous hearts. Caterpillars saying farewell as the Master knits their wings, and so they await with faithful hearts the day of their first flight. And while you sleep or while you’re riding a bike, a baby is born, a prayer is answered, a soul is saved. Brethren, all of those are the work of our God. The gracious and glorious demonstration of His power, mercy and love.
Consequently, a miracle is a name coined from our point of view of everything God wills and does. His every move is so magnificent that humans use seemingly mystical or grand words to describe it. But oh! Praise God that as Christians we are blessed with a privilege to not just witness a miracle but to actually know the One who causes it.
Therefore bid not to forget who our God is, and shut not our eyes lest we forsake any more miracles. Miracles that has one purpose; to glorify God. And when God is glorified we are satisfied. So before we allow ourselves to get discouraged let’s look down, up and all around; taking notice of everything from the humblest to the grandest breath. Surely we will see that our God is faithful. And as Christians saved by grace, He is our life. So if He can run a world this beautiful, such effrontery will it be of us if we dare doubt and accuse Him!
“She maybe the last but she was never left behind,
Silent journey of a hidden life,
Brings forth a thousand victories over frivolous strife.”
2. Slow makes her grow
"Many will be purged, purified and refined, but the wicked will act wickedly; and none of the wicked will understand, but those who have insight will understand.”-Daniel 12:10
“Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!”-Psalm 27:14
I am amazed how God can get so precise with His dealings with us. He knew that growing a garden is a perfect fit for me to learn to have a godly pace. If there’s one thing you need to know about growing a garden it is the patience that is demanded. It is absolutely ridiculous to rush a budding flower. You do your part as a gardener and then you are to wait. Falling short of patience will lead to losing of hope and eventually jeopardizing the growth or even causing the death of the plant. It was at the start of my gardening journey where I used to be very hopeless and impatient when I can’t see visible progress in my plants. No emerging buds, no peaking shoots, nothing! Sights like those easily irk me that I end up disheartened and restless. I even remember a time when one of my propagated hibiscus branch died after I repotted it prematurely. Rush! Rush! Rush! Boy was I guilty with that!
Although this isn’t the first and only instrument that God is using in dealing with my impatience, but I can say right now that it is absolutely driving the nail really deep! You see if I can rush things when it comes to relationships or instances, I cannot by any means do the same with plants. Humans are given the privilege to care for them but they still follow their Creator. An impatient heart and a stubborn plant is a good way to produce patience! Maybe that’s one reason why God did not make it possible for man to bribe or persuade plants!
Also, learning a godly pace means trusting God with His timing. It’s vital to understand that patience is more than just an ability to control one’s temper. It is a level of faith wherein a Christian is at peace and continues to trust even if nothing seems to move. We shouldn’t also resort to comparison or other visual evidences as a basis of God’s faithfulness. For it is very possible that one brethren is seemingly moving lightning fast with all the sunshine in the world while you feel like a snail in a storm stuck in a corner. Both situations came from God’s loving hands, and it is for our good and His glory.
Now to drive my point home, here is a poem that I wrote about one of my hibiscus plant that took months to root and more months to grow and bloom. All while other plants of the same age are already mature and full of blooms. I hope the Lord uses it to talk to your heart.
Her beauty isn't without pain, and her glory bears not her name. As to pain she almost died twice, "a frail little one," one would not think twice. Slow makes her grow; while others reached many places already she remained on the same spot. Sweetly and silently she rejoices whatever her lot. Many would have forsaken her but standing confident in the soil which she's rooted in she continued to believe. And no, she often did not know. Sunshine and rain, loss and gain; joy and pain all of these things she embraced. And no, she often did not know. All she ever did was do what ought to be done while trusting the hand that makes her grow. And no, she often did not know.
Taking shelter and standing in the storm
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”-Joshua 1:9
“Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the lawof the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.”-Psalm 1:1-2
The Bible is replete with commandments about facing our giants (trials, disciplines, sufferings) but also rich with admonitions about fleeing sexual desires and wrong company, etc. It goes to show that there’s a right time to take shelter and a right time to face the storm. Mixing up the two can be disastrous. And in my walk with the Lord in my garden, I have been shown a new dimension of understanding what it means.
You see I have this tendency to be overprotective that is almost leaning towards paranoia. Like when I was a child I used to be very careful not to sit on any of my stuff toys. I give them names, talk to them, and practically treat them like my children. It often reaches a point where I fear that they get lonely when I’m away for too long or they get too cold or too hot that I need to clothe them properly. Even until now I can be that way and it was something I carried over to my garden. This might sound silly but I can get all stressed out when it rains too much and be the same way when it’s too sunny. I also keep on transferring my potted plants thinking they might not be happy with their current spot. I even tried putting up a makeshift tent over those that are planted in the ground when the weather was bad. And as a result, two of my plants died and one of my potted gardenia got sick because I moved it too much. I absolutely did not know when they should take shelter and when they ought to face the storm.
Storms can be scary that we all know but we cannot live our whole lives running away from it. And often time a storm is God’s way of showing us that we are strong enough to stand and an instrument of making us even stronger. Here is where I understand more deeply what the Bible meant with “refiner’s fire.” For it is by vicious winds, heavy rains, and cold nights where strength is tested and fortified. Though it is indeed a blessed thing that God, at the same time, beckons us to take shelter under the refuge of His wings. But it doesn’t change the fact that holiness is always by way of fire. But here is our comfort that Christ is our all and that what He started He will finish.
Befriend the storm
See the beauty of decay
Stand your ground
For this is the day
Weakness is idle spirits
Cradling demons of regrets
Enter the storm!
Discard fearful secrets
Enter the storm!
Let death be put to silence
Watch life rise from the ashes
Wait not 'til it makes sense
Victory is at its best
When it's from death
So befriend the storm
Let go of your timid breath
4. Blooms only last a day
“Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer's;
he makes me tread on my high places.”-Habakkuk 3:17-19
I want to tell you a secret which is a secret no more. I have never really given thought to anything else besides the flower itself. What I mean is before I started to plant a garden I gave no appreciation to the hills and valleys that it went through before a bloom came forth. But after witnessing it now, I will never look at a plant the same way ever again. Blooms are indeed magnificent sights to behold but it is the journey that gives it worth and makes it exquisite.
The fact that blooms only last a day, though some last for weeks, teaches us the principle of progress and perseverance. In our Christian walk we ought not to stay on the mountain tops (neither in the valleys), instead we ought to go down once more through the valleys until our next peak appears. Refreshing times are never meant to breed complacency in us, rather, it’s a restful encouragement to move forward. On the other hand, trying moments are also stark reminders that God’s purpose is yet to be finished. God knows we need both. That’s why He gave it but He also commands us to move forward. Therefore a Christian should never be stationary at any point or wherever place in his life in Christ. Remember that once a bud blossoms its next goal is to wither but not in defeat but in triumph and great anticipation to fight on.
Consequently, “more and more” should be a Christian’s goal. To know God more, to fear Him more, and to love Him more. To become who we are in Christ more and more. To grow in unity and maturity, as His beloved bride, more and more. As long as we live here on earth our goal is more and more. Until we finally arrive at our true heavenly home with Christ.
Another thing that it teaches us is that “with or without” we should trust and praise God. God taught me that leaves are as colorful as the blooms, branches are as delightful, and buds are as exciting. For every bloom be thankful but for the journey be grateful.
Blooms last a day or two
But their journey continues
Blooms last a day or two
Their worth found beyond what's new
Blooms last a day or two
But they never turn gloomy blue
Blooms last a day or two
Folly for those who don't believe it's true
Blooms last a day or two
Aesthetics beyond a color or two
Blooms last a day or two
Efflorescence are daily due
It is God that makes things grow
“So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.”-1 Corinthians 3:7
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.”-Psalm 32:8
The best lesson or should I say reminder I’ve gotten through my walk in the garden is the wonderful truth that it is still God that make things grow. And with that I end with this enlightening passage;
“To those with ears to hear and eyes to see, there will be very great release from unbearable burdens in the language of autumn trees, for example, when they dress most gloriously in preparation for death. The red leaves is the sign of the cross. Winter follows, when snow closes everything in frozen silence. The trees then are skeletons, but wonders are being performed under the surface of things. Spring comes, and the hidden wonders burst out all at once----tiny shoots, swelling buds, touches of green and red where all seemed hopeless the day before.”
“If the leaves had not been let go to fall and wither, if the tress had not consented to be a skeleton for many months, there would be no new life rising, no bud, no flower, no fruit, no seed, no new generation.”
-Elisabeth Elliot, Passion & Purity /(Lilias Trotter in her “Parables of the Cross.”)