The desk at my window is usually a lovely view. However, early and abundant rain this summer caused the hydrangeas to grow feet taller than usual and the view is completely hidden. I’m o.k. with it because the small flower garden seen from this window that often captures my attention is covered in weeds. Covered. I wasn’t about to trim the oversized hydrangeas because I would have cut off all of their lovely blooms. But the weedy flower garden – that was simply absence of the gardener.
John 15 has continually been brought to the forefront of my mind through multiple conversations, teachings, and study over the past several weeks. Throughout the entirety of John 15, we tend to focus on Jesus being the vine and us being the branches. It’s all about abiding in the Lord, being connected to him. But the well-known chapter in John opens up with verse 1, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.” God, the Father, is the Gardener. Some translations say ‘Farmer’ or ‘Vinedresser’. The Hebrew words being used together for our translations boil down to soil-toiler or land worker. So the One who created the land also tends to it.
A gardener’s job is to care for the land, the soil and plants. A good gardener is always in tune with what’s taking place in the garden and carries pruners, always prepared to take care of broken branches, spent flowers, or unruly and unwanted growth. The gardener is in constant relationship with their garden. That’s the kind of Gardener the Father is, always present and attune to what’s going on.
As I reflected on God being our Gardener, this unruly, weed-begotten flower bed along our driveway and hidden from view at my desk became a physical example of what can take place when the Gardener is absent. I hadn’t pruned anything for months, the weeds had sown their seed, spent flowers dotted the landscape as dead-camouflage to the struggling growth below. This flower bed had gotten so bad it was like driving by a bad car accident. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it yet I couldn’t stand to look at it. My absence had caused plants to nearly die, suffocating under the weight of weeds. As it’s reflected in our life, maybe this unruly garden would be like a life of continual chaos or a mind over-run with lies from the enemy.
Having a relationship with the Gardener (God) may seem a bit overwhelming, unnecessary, uncomfortable, silly, or even impractical. However, my experience has been that God is the best Gardener. He knows the best times to prune me and scrape off the rough edges. He knows when to till up the soil in my heart and plant the seeds. He’s knows when I need a little water and when I’m drowning. He knows that what seems overwhelming and ugly to me will eventually grow to become my favorite and most beautiful parts.
I’ve experienced his absence, never on his part – always mine. I do so by pulling away and thinking I can be the gardener, take care of it all myself. It’s tempting to ignore the mess and live in complete denial, the view from my desk is nonexistent after all. Truth is, I’m better when he’s in charge and I’m willing to do the work. My job is to grow and move forward while being surrendered to the Gardener who knows best.
To be completely vulnerable, he’s presently tilling my heart and working out insecurity. It’s uncomfortable, but I understand the reward. The Gardener always has our best interest in mind. He’s only interested in having a loving relationship with us which allows us to grow. That’s just who he is, love does that.
I’m curious. What might the Gardener be cultivating in your life right now? Tilling, pruning, planting or tending seeds? Are there areas of your heart you have not allowed the Gardener to have full access? Would you allow me to join you in praying for that? Take some time to invite the Gardener into the garden of your life, fully present and surrendered. Besides, gardens are wonderful and peace-filled and orderly places when the Gardener is present.
For further consideration: John 15
P.S. I’ve since gone out to that overrun flower bed and determined to pull the weeds and remove the dead. Flowers are beginning to bloom; they just needed a little exposure to the sun (aka: Son) and room to grow. And the space feels SO much better.