I find it amazing that when God made man He placed him right where He wanted him: in the garden. Standing out here with life all around us is simply getting back to our roots. Returning to the place we were always meant to be. Adam’s job was simple. He tended to the plants. He named the animals. There were no weeds, no thorns, or cabbage bugs. There was only life and light. The Creator and the created working hand in hand in the midst of a deep green, fruitful land.
In the cool of the day, God walked with Adam. There was beauty. There were roots and shoots. Stalks and blooms. Berries and wonder all around. Peace was there. Light was there. Life was there. Because God was there.
A New Kind of Seed
It was good. It was all so good. A harmony existed between Heaven and earth that we simply can’t fathom today. I imagine daisies bursting forth from rich green fields as God laughed over His children. I imagine God smiling and gazing in wonder at all the beauty He had created. And I imagine the Word coming forth to meet with His beloved. The Spirit moving across the waters and rustling like wind in the branches as apple blossoms fell like snow upon the ground. It was all so good.
But there was another presence in the garden. Something sinister. Something lurking just below the surface. Its desire was to be like the Creator. Greater than the Creator. But can the created ever be greater than the Creator? No. And he knew that. He was beautiful, deceitful, and crafty. If he couldn’t be God- then he would seek to destroy God.
But you cannot destroy what is eternal. Untouchable. Immovable. Spiritual. And so instead, he sought to crush the only part of God he could get his hands on. He sought to sever a relationship- so harmonious, so peaceful, and so pure, it made him recoil at the thought. And so he planted a new seed- right into the heart of God’s creation. A deceitful seed. A seed of doubt. Of curiosity. Of rebellion. A seed that promised to grow something more than what they had.
He placed it right into the heart of the woman. And it took root, deep bitter roots. Roots that began to crack apart everything. Severing trust, creating shame, fracturing the cosmos- and God and His children separated. A new kind of seed- not meant to thrive, but to destroy.
The World of Weeds
Fig leaves could never cover the damage that one lie and one act of disobedience had brought into the world. Sin had bloomed in God’s perfect world and the fruit of it was already multiplying. The children pointed fingers as all children do. But God- their Holy Father- knew the truth. It pained Him to punish. It broke His heart to see His perfect world covered in weeds. He knew the destruction that would come from this single moment. He knew the generations of strife, murder, anger, and bitterness. And He knew the loss His creation would now suffer because of these new weeds.
Man would wrestle with the land to provide for himself and his family. It was no longer subject to him. Woman would wrestle the weeds of submission and labor in childbirth. Weeds took over the garden. Weeds took over their hearts. And weeds grew between God and man.
But the garden is a magical place, full of wonder and beauty. A place where seeds are planted and the hope of new life comes forth. And it was here- right in the garden- that God vowed to crush the weeds. It was here that God vowed to grow something new. And it was here- right in the garden- that God gave His first promise of redemption.
Grace in the Garden
The garden theme is woven in and out of scripture, in and out of our lives. It is the imagery of love and purity in the Song of Songs. It was in the harvest where Boaz first saw Ruth. And it was in the garden where Jesus cried out to the Father and offered His life- the very life promised in the garden at the very beginning.
And here we are. In the garden. Surrounded by beauty, life, weeds, worries, anxieties, food insecurities- but here we are in the midst of God’s grace. I never saw myself loving the garden like I do, but I also never imagined I would find God there. Nearly seven years ago now I finally surrendered my life to Jesus. I was wrestling with a million things. Questioning who I was. A new mom. An unexpected mom, no less. God met with me at a kitchen table late one night and changed my life.
For years I had fought the idea of being a mama. I was content with motherhood, but I thought I needed more. Everyone else had degrees, promotions, careers, goals, and encouragement. They were important. Companies relied on them. Patients needed them. Their accomplishments preceded them. I, on the other hand, always felt that I had to somehow prove my worth to everyone who found out I was just a mom. A couple of years ago I decided to take a month and just focus on writing and making something of myself- and during that month God called me away from writing and into my magnum opus: The High Calling of Motherhood.
I didn’t know then that I would write a blog or live anything out publicly.
But I felt a call back to the garden.
Listen, when it comes to the real garden I am an amateur at best, but I hope by now you see that there is more growing than just the seeds I put into the ground. This is a kind of gardening anyone can do. Whether you live in a high rise apartment or a sixty acre farm. This garden is getting back to our roots. Back to where we started. Back to where we first came from. This is us as Mamas in an incredibly broken and confused world getting back to the presence of God. Tracing back to our own roots. We were always meant to be in the garden. We were always meant to be with God.
What are we connected to? What are we stemming from? Is there any new growth or fruit? Are we stagnant or wilting? How can we tend to our own small sprouts (our children) if we are not growing and thriving ourselves?
We have to get back to our roots. To prune the anxieties, the stress, the insecurities, and the shame that is holding us back. We cannot grow something new if we aren’t allowing the Gardener to care for us…
This has been my heart this week. It has been a record breaking Tennessee summer. The heat is sweltering. In the cool of the day (which is still pretty hot) I have taken to watering my garden. I watch as sunflower leaves dance in the drops. Tattered tomatoes plants lift their heads as they soak up the very thing they are thirsting for. Drips bound off of basil leaves and run down tomatillos almost ready to be picked. And I felt a pull there. A conviction. Am I being watered well?
I’ve been reading through Proverbs and somedays I walk away with some beads of water, but other days I read to check it off my list. There have been times in my life when the Word of God is so sweet. It is like honey on my lips. There are moments where the Word is poured out and I can stretch out and feel the growth. I see the fruit. I watch the blossoms as they bloom and I stand in awe of what God is doing within me. Other times the Word seems like a slight drizzle and I am present in the mist- but not thriving.
And there are dark days. Days of drought. Days when I can read or not read but the water doesn’t come. Moments when I struggle, pray, and cry out to God for His presence that doesn’t seem to be there. Mama, if you are here- withering in a drought. Don’t give up. Get back to the garden. Keep reading, keep praying, keep searching- because I promise you in time you will lift your eyes to the horizon and you will see a cloud. You will be well watered once again.
Laboring in the Garden
I hear so many say gardening is therapeutic, I agree.. Sometimes. A couple of weeks ago I spent an afternoon clearing the weeds from around my cabbages. I planned to go down row by row over the next few days and clear out the weeds. We ended up getting a lot of rain for a couple of days and by the time I made it back out… Weeds everywhere. I don’t mean the easy kind. The ones where you pull them up by the root one at a time. No its was basically grass everywhere- sown thick and lush all over my garden. It took hours, days, and help from husband and kids to clear it. There. are still places of thick grass in the garden because my plants were too small still to tell what was what..
There was some bitterness in cleaning that out. This has in general been a bittersweet growing season of significant highs and many lows. But the garden is a labor of love.
Sin changed things. The earth no longer yielded to our hands but rather warred against them. Thorns overtake the berries on the vine. Sweat gathers on our brow. But someone else labored in the garden- a true labor of love.
You can almost picture him if you really try. Sweat gathers on His brow. That sweat becomes great drops of blood dripping upon the ground as He prays.
He is escorted out of the garden, away from the presence of God. The curse is laid upon His head: a crown of thorns.
His creation mocks Him.
But He is growing something new.
The Gospel of the Garden
Jesus gave up His life. That was the cost of His creation. He gave up everything just to get back to the garden with us. The best gardeners can grow something beautiful from just about anything. In His death something beautiful began to grow. These new roots tore the veil between God and man. His blood poured out watering new ground. And just as every seed awaits its moment to burst forth from the earth: three days later, He, too, arose. When His followers first saw Him, they mistook Him for the gardener. They weren’t exactly wrong.
Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. He is making all things new.
An Invite Back to the Garden
Mamas, I don’t know each and everyone of you that read my blogs, but I know this you need to get in the garden. Some of you may reside there, living your entire life in the presence of God. I am so happy for you! Stay there! Stay in the garden with Him.
Others, may be more like me, you visit often but find that life pulls you away more than you would want to admit. Put roots there, deep ones. I need to as well. We need the presence of God in our lives in order to face this world- in order to aim our arrows.
And if you have never been in the garden, consider this your invitation. This is the good news. This is the real garden. Mama, I don’t know how you make it without Him. But you don’t have to carry it all yourself. You don’t have to cry and struggle and go it alone. When you look around and see all the chaos and confusion this world has to offer- there is hope for better days ahead. We strive to aim arrows that will change this world, but we have a greater hope than just this world. Come to the garden, Mamas. Grow something beautiful with Him.
To the mama who is still struggling with anxiety or fear, check out our blog: To the Worrisome Mama.
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