Genesis 2:8 says God planted a garden in the east, in Eden. Verse 15 says the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden. It seems so perfect to me that God placed Adam in a garden. And though he literally placed him there, I believe there’s a significant spiritual depth that is so rich. I believe each one of us is a spiritual gardener. We’ve been placed by God into specific gardens to grow in and to tend to. There are things we nurture and things we prune. There are weeds we pull and there are places we till and plant. And just like with Adam, God walks with us in the garden. He’s given us things to enjoy and to eat the fruit of. And just like with Adam, he’s placed things in the garden that are off limits. This fact is a bit hard to grasp at first. Why would God do this? Some believe it’s God tempting us, but I know this isn’t so because James 1:13 says that no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone. What he does, is provide us with the opportunity to obey. He gives us the opportunity to trust him and to choose him. So here we are in our garden and it’s meant to be a beautiful, productive, fulfilling, fruitful place, and we’re meant to keep it that way.
I didn’t keep mine very well. Yes I went to church and I watered and nurtured some things. I read the word and prayed, but I also brought in some things to temporarily enjoy that took root. Sinful things I had no idea would grow so fast or root so deep. They began to choke out other important things that were vital to my nutrition and to my garden. The weeds had new places to grow that were beyond my sight. Hidden by the out of control addition I’d allowed within my gates and garden walls. Small foxes and rodents began climbing the sinful ivy that now cascaded over and down the protective borders, and my God given garden gradually became a place that was no longer delightful. I didn’t want to be in my garden anymore. It seemed beyond repair so I searched and found another garden. It looked so pleasurable and in season. It even had the things I’d brought into my garden but they seemed to grow differently. It was springtime in this new garden and it smelled so good. Everything was new and exciting. There were plants I’d never seen before. There were others I had heard of that had bad reputations, but they seemed a lot more enjoyable than people said. This garden was different. Nothing was off limits. Even the poisonous plants were said to be ok if I just had a little. I ate of all the fruit! All my senses were invigorated. I saw everything, listened to everything, tasted everything, touched everything, and took in the fresh aroma all around.
As spring ended and summer settled in, so did I. The fresh aroma was gone because what had been new was now established and had become everyday for me. I had now officially moved and taken residency in the newer garden. It was so pleasurable in the spring, but now the resources were kind of drying up. I hadn’t worked because I was so busy enjoying everything. Now it was really hot and really wearing me down. There’s no big oak tree for shade like I had in my God given garden. There’s not even protection from the storms. But, there was still a little fruit, although it wasn’t fresh like it was in the spring. In fact, it had started to rot. Gnats and fruit flies were becoming so thick that the majority of my energy went to keeping them off the remainder of my fruit; at least what I had decided was mine. Along came fall. A season rightly named might I add because everything I enjoyed began to fall away. One by one the leaves of friendship, worth, and self-esteem dropped to the ground as winds of self-destruction carried off my livelihood. Winter was lonely. I was surrounded by the true identity of the garden. No longer covered in leaves of promise and flowers of glitz and glamour, the raw branches were exposed, along with all the thorns and thistles. It was a miserable time. I couldn’t go anywhere without the pain of the overgrown thorns. I needed it to be spring again! When would it be spring again? I filled my mind with the memories of spring and it helped me to wait. And then…spring arrived, but it was nothing like I had remembered. I was now surrounded by everything I had sown over the past year. I had forgotten that we are always sowing! I tried to nurture and water the things from the season past but they were dead. How could I have known they were seasonal and not annual? I found myself in desperation. How could I live with what I’ve sown? It’s all I have to eat. There’re no nutrients in it. There’s no substance to it. And to top it all off, there’s no water to even wash down the bitter taste. Thoughts of home began to flood my mind and I finally got up and went back to my God given garden.
I was so happy to be home because even though my garden was a mess, it was still better than the deceitful garden I’d made a mess of. I did some work, though there was still a lot to be done, and I enjoyed the company of my garden companions, especially the Lord. But before too long, the seasons in my God given garden were changing, as they always do, and winter can be hard even though it’s temporary. So I looked out my gates and there it was again! Springtime in the other garden! I wondered how it came alive again but there was no time for questions. I was off and back in the mystical garden. I noticed right away that what I had sown was still there. It was mostly ignored thanks to the other things growing around. But once more it happened again. A rerun now played in high definition.
Back and forth I went. My sin season cycle. I had become a horrible, hurtful, lazy, undependable gardener who couldn’t be trusted. I had trained myself to run to anyplace where it was springtime. Then one day after coming home to my God given garden, the garden giver himself spoke to me. He said, “Stop running from winter. I need you to see winter for what it really is. You need the color gone so that you can see things in black and white. Winter is when the roots grow deeper so that the plants grow larger and the trees grow taller. It’s not a time of death, but a time of depth. I want to cover you like snow and my warmth will cause my goodness to water you and nourish you.” This is where I am. I’m under the covering. Pulling weeds and working with the Lord as we make this garden beautiful.
God’s shown me that sin will always be in its pleasurable season somewhere. That’s the only time Satan will present it. He wants to conceal the fact that it’s only pleasurable for that season. He knows that the rotten side of it, the dead side, would push people away rather than draw them in. No one chooses rotten fruit at a grocery store. Crowds don’t flock to home improvement stores in the dead of winter for plants that aren’t in bloom. Teens wouldn’t look at a homeless man who lost everything he had because of drugs and say, “I want that!” The married woman wouldn’t flirt with the guy in the office if she saw the future affect than an affair would have on her husband and children. No! They are drawn in during the pleasurable season.
I’m grateful that God allowed me to see the seasons of sin that lead to death. I’m more grateful that he rescued me and welcomed me home so that I could be restored. You see, I’m not just in a garden; I’m an oak tree. An oak of righteousness to display God’s splendor. I’m now like a tree planted by rivers of water, which yields it’s fruit in season, whose leaf does not wither. Ready in season and out with a promise to prosper.
EVERY MAN’S A GARDENER
FOR ALL WILL SOW AND REEP
SOME WORK AT IT DILIGENTLY
OTHERS CHOOSE TO SLEEP
EVERY MAN’S A GARDENER
ONE DAY IT WILL BE SHOWN
THAT EVERY MAN’S A GARDENER
WHEN HE EATS OF WHAT HE’S SOWN