In December of 2009, I was asked to plan a gardening seminar for our church to take place in May of 2010. I had been speaking on garden topics for several years, but this was an opportunity to use my knowledge to serve God. For me, gardening is all about God anyway. When I am in the garden, I am keenly aware of God’s creative Presence; each plant is so unique in its beauty and attributes and yet, they all weave together in an incredible tapestry that changes day by day.
When my husband works with me in the garden, he tries to be careful not to tromp on the plants. He asks which are my favorites so he can protect them, but he eventually has to point out that each one is “my favorite.” As I tend to my plants I’m reminded of the careful way God tends to those who belong to Him and the knowledge that each one of us is His favorite. God provides for all of our needs; I recognize His power in my life.
Giving the seminar was such a privilege for me. People were so receptive and gracious. One of their favorite stories was about the garden at Duffield, in South Carolina. This property was originally developed in the early 1900’s but at some point it was abandoned. The house became surrounded by overgrown shrubbery and invasive vines. Large trees still lay where they had been felled by Hurricane Hugo.In 1992, the property was purchased by a couple intending to renovate. They had been told that, decades before, it had been owned by a well-known Camellia expert who was renowned in the state for her knowledge and her collection.
As they began to clear away the debris and the underbrush, they happened upon a shrub with a single, eye-popping bloom. At that point, hope kindled that the incredible collection was still there, even after years of being deprived of sun and choked by the weeds. They hired a local designer who was familiar with the history of the property to assist them as they peeled back layer after layer of the overgrown tangle. Another Camellia was found, and then another; when finished, they had found and rescued over 100 beautiful camellias, originally handpicked by their loving owner, still flowering. It took years, but now the property has been restored to its original beauty and is featured on local garden tours.
I know I must periodically clear away the worries and the busy-ness of the world that threatens to choke out the Truth I’ve learned. If I let them, the worries-about my health, my husband’s health, my daughters and their families, my parents-will overwhelm me like those invasive plants taking over Duffield. Jesus says, “you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary: to spend time with Me and listen to My words.”
Perhaps you heard and believed the Word of God when you were younger, but the pace and the stress of your life have all but silenced that faith. It is not gone! Just like the beautiful camellias at Duffield, the beauty and appealing gifts that God has planted in your life are still able to bloom if you clear away some of the weeds-the worries of the world and the striving-that choke them out. Your faith remains, in all its beauty, waiting for you to prune out the overgrowth and give it room to flourish. What can you say “No” to today, so that you can say “Yes” to Jesus?
Scripture reference:Matthew 6:28-30; Zephaniah 3:17; Luke 10:38-42