I AM – Devotional Style Short Stories – “The Garden”

The Garden

The ground has been tilled, the weeds removed, and the tools set aside, for now. The woman sits at her kitchen table holding her hot mug of coffee while contemplating on the day ahead.

The doorbell rings startling her out of her revelry and she sets the mug on the table and walks to the door. Opening it, a Man stands smiling and asks, “Are you ready to plant your garden?”

“Yes,” she replies. “I’ll meet you out back.”

The Man is standing beside the tilled plot of ground looking down at it when she walks up beside Him. “It isn’t very big but you know how I love to garden.” She apologetically states.

“Did you know that only one seed can grow and multiply? Don’t worry about the size.” The Man wisely states.

They kneel down in the dirt and begin planting a few seeds, some plants she acquired at the nursery, and patting the dirt carefully around them she seems pleased with their progress.

The Man sits down at the edge of the garden and gazes over the now filled plot. He’s quiet and the woman looks over at Him, smiles, and then asks, “A penny for your thoughts?”

He chuckles. Scooping up some dirt in His hand He looks at her and holds out His hand. “This dirt represents people. If they are nurtured the seed will grow. If not, the seed will die. It all depends on the person.”

The woman sits thinking for a moment and then looks at Him a little confused.

“You are planting seeds here in this dirt and you fully expect all of them to grow.” He states. “But what about the seeds you plant in people’s hearts? Not all those seeds will grow but do you stop planting?”

The woman stares down at the garden they just planted for a long moment. “I never thought of that. This is like the parable of the seeds in the Bible.”

“Exactly. People get discouraged when they don’t witness the seeds planted growing and give up. Like the seeds here in this soil, some will grow into beautiful plants and others will be choked out by weeds if you don’t tend to the garden.”

The woman stands, dusts off her jeans, and replies, “Let’s get some ice tea. I think I understand.”

***

 

Matthew 13:8 – “Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” (See Matthew 13:1-9)

***

I love to play in the dirt planting flowers. This story reminds me of how I planted a seed, A Rose of Sharon, and came back the next year to see a grown plant with all the seed pods at the ends of the branches. In no time I found dozens of small Rose of Sharon plants sprouted around the foot of the main plant. That’s how Christianity is supposed to work. We plant spiritual seeds in someone’s life, nurture it, and watch how that person goes out into the secular world and plants more seeds. We, as Christians, are gardeners. We plant, we nurture, and hopefully, our seeds have taken deep roots and multiply into the kingdom of God. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see the results of your labor of love. Not all “soil” is receptive.

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Planting a seed-hoping for a harvest

Skipping across the dirt campground toward the teacher I feel free and relaxed. She has blown her whistle as the signal for us to gather together for the afternoon study. It’s a small gathering of girls at Big Sur campground in California. I must have been about seven or eight years old. The only time I attended Sunday School was just in time for the vacation Bible school camp. I’d go just long enough to qualify to be able to go to camp.

Mom would drop us off at church and then pick us up afterwards. There was no family of Mom, Dad, and four children lined in the pew singing and praising. Dad ridiculed, laughing and making fun. Mom stayed home ignoring him. My older sister and I went to Sunday School. I knew that was the only way to get to go camping for a week with the other little girls.

It was so much fun. One day we busied ourselves painting on plaster of Paris. Something we would get to carry home. An array of crafts were enjoyed each day. I still have this plaster of Paris little token of one of our daily craft sessions. IMGP2285

Campfires with roasted marshmellows on a stick, hot dogs sizzling at the end of a fork. Short Bible stories were told while gathered near the camp fire and enjoying the sound of crickets chirping in the background. Swimming in the roped off section of the lake during the hot part of the bright summer day. Oh what joy. Oh what a relief to be away from home.

What I didn’t know was the Lord was using this opportunity to plant His seeds of faith within my heart. He knew the circumstances of my abusive home life and apparently knew that at some point in my life I would need the faith He was burying deep within me. It would take many years to pass before that seed of hope, love, and faith would come bubbling forth.

Fast forward some 40-42 years.

Sitting on the carpeted floor of a Sunday School room and leaning against the wall I’m listening to the pastor as he’s teaching. I’m a new Christian and trying to understand. The pastor, for some un-known reason, looks directly at me and states boldly, “God loves you!” Without hesitation the words fly forth from my lips, “So what, He loves everyone!” Needless to say the room got very, very quiet.

As I grew in my relationship with Christ I began understanding just how important those words are. “God loves you.” But over the years I’ve also recognized that those words have also, almost, become similar to a cliché.  “Yeah, yeah, so what. He loves everyone.”

The closer my relationship with Him, the more I’ve understood that His love goes far beyond anything we can even fathom. Yes, God loves us with an everlasting love but many of us don’t want to think about the discipline part of His love. We don’t want to think about the wrath that He pored out on certain nations or peoples and will pour out again. We don’t want to think about the consequences of disobedience or rebellion. Neither did Adam and Eve.

It’s so much easier to think of a warm fuzzy love poured out on us 24/7. That way I don’t have to think about the sins I commit, the consequences of those sins, or that I need to even admit I sin! I can sit back and make statements like, “If God loves me so much how come…?” or “If God is love then why…?”

I look back over the many years since those campfire days and wonder how God can love me. All the sin I commit, all the years of hatred and anger toward Him, all the years of ignoring Him, the bad language, the un-forgiveness, the cruelty of words I have spoken. I am as filthy rags! I think about a rag that I pick up with the very tips of my fingers, holding it out at arms length while I race to the trash can and can barely stand the stench of it. Compared to Him, I am as that rag. How can God love something like that?

I may never know the answer but I do know one thing as absolute fact, He never gave up on me!

He knew when I was ready.

Then He washed this filthy rag.        imagesCAHOZCDE

~~~~~

“…To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood.” Rev. 1:5

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Blessing to you. 🙂