“No death was not my plan” God said
When Adam chose the names for beasts
When I in secret fashioned Eve
While He lay fast asleep
Now when Spring seems far away
And under snow the garden sleeps
Remember that in frozen ground
The Tulip’s promise keeps
For as the last frost leaves the earth
The flower finds its way
And just as Jesus rose from death
It breaks through to sunny day!
No Death Was Not My Plan!
by Peter Caligiuri copyright © 2022
All rights reserved
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
John 10:10 ESV
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. John 15:1
Over my life, I have worked many jobs: tree climber, pastor, teacher and gardener, to name a few. Though I have spent more time on my knees pulling weeds, than in prayer, it is amazing the lessons that God has taught me there. You see, when people think of gardening, they tend to gravitate towards the more glamorous tasks, like planting and picking. And while those jobs, certainly are in the job description, these are not the only tasks involved between Spring and the Fall harvest. Since, we who are believers are God’s gardening projects, it is important to pay attention to all the jobs that our gardener has marked in His calendar!
First, there is pest control. Jesus warned that those who heard His teaching but did not allow it into their hearts would have the birds of the air come and eat it right off the top of the soil before it could grow. Some of the pests in our lives might look like – the football game that we are thinking about while pastor is finishing his sermon. Or it might be the phone call that we never return that is asking for us to help out a friend who is moving next week. “My back felt sore the last time I did that.” we think. “Why doesn’t someone else step in this time?” Whether your solution is a scarecrow or a dog who chases off the groundhogs, we need to find a way to guard God’s seed from the pests that come to steal and destroy our fruitfulness.
Next, no garden makes it through the heat of summer without irrigation. (Unless you are growing rice in a swamp). The Apostle Paul tells us, that His job had been to plant, but Apollos watered the church. If you don’t think watering is important then ask the farmer who is helplessly looking out at his field of parched corn, with no rain in the forecast. But God will send showers of His mercy. Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount that God sends that rain on both the just and the unjust – and I have often been the unjust and much in need of His grace. How wonderful a Savior we have, who helps us with his merciful rain, when we need it most and deserve it least.
Then, comes God’s weeding. Isn’t it amazing how weeds grow? Even during droughts, in spite of weed barriers or even spray – they find a way to survive, and, in the process, they will strangle the tomatoes, beans or okra, that we are trying to grow. In ancient Israel, farmers didn’t get on their knees to rid a field of weeds. Instead, they simply took a torch and burned it, then reploughed and planted again. Ouch! I have had a few fires in my life. Usually, it has been after God has dealt with me and given me second and third chances about selfish choices and I have not listened. Then, in one way or another He sends a painful yet redeeming discipline. It is not God’s desire to hurt us, but He sends a firestorm to burn to the ground all that stuff we insisted we had to have, so that we would meekly accept his breaking up our fallow ground and replanting good seed in our hearts.
I have often been like a gardener in a hurry. We used to read books to our boys about a Frog and his friend Mr. Toad. In one of those stories, Frog planted a garden and the next morning he rushed out to see if it grew. Of course, there was nothing happening yet. So then, Frog watered it, sang to it and watched it closely, but still nothing. Only after a few days, when he had all but given up, was Frog amazed to wake one morning to see the new plants grow. It is the same with the harvest that we are longing for in our lives. It doesn’t happen in Spring and for some crops (think pumpkins) it doesn’t even happen in Summer. We all must patiently accept the appointed tasks that God has marked for us in His garden calendar. We have to learn His lessons about sowing with tears, pest control watering and weeding before we can come rejoicing carrying home the sheaves with the gardener of our hearts!
But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 1 Corinthians 12:18 ESV
Once we were edging and weeding several hundred feet of perennial beds on a large estate, in preparation for the owner’s weekend visit. On the crew that day, we had a new employee named Waldemar. So as not to overtax him, I started Waldemar on a stretch of the bed which only needed some light weeding. After working on the other side of the house for an hour, I came back to check on my new friend and found to my dismay that he had not only pulled out every single weed, but he had also taken out all the primroses which were just beginning to pop out of the ground. “Waldemar, where are the flowers?” I asked. My poor friend stopped what he was doing and glanced back along the empty bed with a bewildered look.
“Just because they aren’t blooming yet, doesn’t mean they aren’t flowers.” I explained
Looking back, I can see that I should have spent more time training and I had forgotten how many years it took for me to learn which were the weeds and which the flowers. The church is a lot like that perennial garden. Just as in today’s verse, God has planted each of us where He designed and each of us blooms in our own season. While we are just beginning to grow, we might not look much different than the weeds. So, let’s be careful this week in how we treat others. Every part of God’s garden has something growing, and even flowers that have finished blooming still have value. Some older plants with only green leaves give a nice backdrop to the younger blossoms that are just opening. Others, even with only wilted tops, give quiet example as they simply rest, knowing that surely one day it will be Springtime again!
I hope you like today’s video that tells the story as well as includes the hymn “In the Garden” (It’s my favorite!) I was so blessed to have a new volunteer come along with me this week to visit my Thursday morning memory care friends.