By Marlys Burgett
I enjoy flower gardening–being outdoors in creation . . . taking a blank piece of lawn . . . digging the soil, nurturing and planting . . . mulching, watering and fertilizing.
After winter’s thaw and in early spring, I trim and prune the plants down to ground, and then wait until they grow into something beautiful. And so it applies to our spiritual lives.
Jesus allows circumstances in our journey to dig and turn the soil of our lives upside down. We don’t feel watered. We feel a flood has drowned us, and we are treading frantically to escape. The winter cold seems it will never end, and sometimes he prunes us so severely . . .
we wonder if we will ever recover. Will we ever bear fruit in our lives again?
But when we do recover, there comes beauty. Here is one of my favorite flower beds.
Its beauty comes from the toil of sweat, many tears and prayers as I tended to this garden. It’s really therapy for me.
And even as particular as I am about my yard, this is my favorite tree.
It’s an apple tree Joel and I planted on our anniversary the year before he died. Do you notice the imperfections? It always gets a fungus so the leaves aren’t really pretty at all. It’s really bent. I didn’t stake or tend to the tree after planting it. It was a year I skipped on tending my lawn and gardens. It was a year of caring and tending to the needs of Joel. The yard would have to wait. I pruned a limb off the tree rather hastily and wasn’t being careful, and I ripped off the bark.
So now it’s not only bent, but it has a big scar. And as I began to tend to the yard again, I cursed that tree. It looked awful and didn’t bear any fruit. My neighbor even asked if I was going to take it out and plant something different. But as I looked at the tree I saw something I hadn’t seen before.
It was bent and broken and scarred by life’s journey, just like me.
But Jesus. Jesus turns things into something lovely and causes them to bear fruit. After 3 years, I have a few lovely apples on my tree even though it’s not the prettiest plant in the yard.
This tree is also a beautiful reminder and encouragement to me of Jesus. He was bent and broken and scarred, hung on a tree for me, and for you.
The real HOPE is Jesus understands our real ache. He identifies and cares about our scars, loneliness, mess ups, misunderstandings, fears and insecurities. He offers us an abundant life full of grace and mercy.
Let’s pray this verse together!
“This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”