I have always loved my garden. When I was first married we had a large garden which was quite overgrown but we planted and made raised beds and resowed the lawn and tended to the beautiful apple tree where Len had put a seat around so we could sit there and admire our little plot and discuss what veggies we would grow or what plants would do best that year.
I remember oriental poppies and delphiniums and hollyhocks, hedged round with honeysuckle and arches covered with clematis. I loved working and tending my garden. and even when my health started to deteriorate and it caused me pain to dig and water and mulch I was still happy in my garden.
So I can understand why God in his love gave His very own garden to Adam and Eve to tend and meet Him in. What a privilege! what an expression of fatherly love. And then they ruined it for all of us! They sinned by disobeying his one command. It’s no good making excuses about being tempted and tricked by the serpent.
They ate of the forbidden fruit because they wanted more. They wanted the power of knowledge. And wow did they get it! But they lost the garden. God tells Adam in the same chapter of Genesis "Cursed is the land because of you, through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life, it will produce thistles and thorns for you and you will eat of the plants of the field."
Note: Instead of just having to pluck choicest fruit from the trees in Gods garden, through one act of disobedience Adam was made to toil and sweat in the fields outside, barred forever from the garden, and fighting each day to find enough to eat among thistles and thorns, and all this because the land was cursed, not by God, but by Adams sin.
I cannot imagine how Adam and Eve must have felt. Knowing that all their sons and daughters ( including you and me ) were doomed to meet death and hardship because of their sin.
Shut out of Gods Garden
The bible is full of references to different gardens, some actual places with huge meaning like the Garden of Gethsemane and some allegorical like the verses in Isaiah chapter 58 v 11 where it says: "If you will do away with the yoke of oppression and with pointing fingers and malicious talk and if you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry, the Lord will satisfy your needs in a sun scorched land and will strengthen your frame and you will be like a well watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail."
So I am going to talk about gardens today. Whether we are lucky enough to have a real garden or not we all have a"spiritual garden" the place where we can meet with God and talk with Him in the early morning or cool of the evening... If we believe in Jesus it is hedged around by our faith and the salvation of Christ, and in the middle of our garden can be planted a tree on which the Son of Man and God once bled and died for us.
And the ground instead of being cursed because of the sin of one man is fertilized by this second Adams blood and sacrifice and death.And around that tree grows a vine. The TRUE VINE, as Jesus Himself describes Himself in John 15. and we are to be grafted into that Vine,never to be separated. Lets just read that passage together if you have your bible. John 15 v1.
Our blossoms and fruit grow abundantly in the shade of this tree, but most plants also need light for the process of photosynthesis and our gardens have the Light of the world, brighter than the sun and yet with the gentle light of the morning star to ensure we grow and thrive and live.
But of course nothing in a garden can prosper if it has no roots and we also need our roots to grow strong. Ephesians 3 v 17 tells us that if we are in Christ then we are rooted in His love. No better growing medium as long as we remain there. A plant so rooted and established cannot help but bear fruit and blossom.
But every garden needs care and attention. Otherwise it becomes a wilderness and overgrown. Sometimes it is hard work and sometimes a huge delight but if we want to bear fruit for Our Father we must be always alert for pest damage and diseases which would nibble away at our trees and flowers until we are left with nothing but stalks only good for a bonfire.
Weeds also can enter our gardens blown in as seeds on the wind and try and choke the cultivated plants and take over the garden. These I would describe as false doctrines, wrong headedness, lack of love and an unforgiving spirit among many other varieties which can happily grow among our caulis and cabbages and wheat until they come to bear fruit which then can be seen quite clearly as not part of the gardeners plan. But Our Father is a wonderful Gardener and it is He who helps us uproot these things which would destroy his perfect plan for our garden, sometimes some of our most beautiful and precious plants have to be transplanted.
Sometimes because they need to have more space to grow. Sometimes to make room for other plants to flourish, but whenever a gardener transplants a treasured flower or shrub they are always very careful not to damage the rootstock. That way when they are transplanted they resume growth and continue to bless others with their fruit and blossoms for many more years with renewed vigour. As I speak today I can think of many beautiful plants in my spiritual garden ( people that I have loved and cared for in my church) who have been transplanted by the Father gardener and are now flourishing back in their native soil or other places God has replanted them.
As I speak to you I am thinking of two more treasured plants which have flourished in my garden and whom are being transplanted by The Lord into other soil in another garden where we know they will flourish still rooted in the Love of Christ. They will leave behind as others have, a gap which will seem barren and empty for many a day until the other plants grow and fill the space or a planting occurs.But I have confidence that all will be well because my garden is tended by my Fathers hand.
In this garden I have different plants with different needs. Some need the shade and some need full sun.Some thrive in the centre of things and some are more retiring and prefer to live a more prayerful and quiet existence., but all need the care and cultivation that only communion with the Lord in prayer and His Word in their hearts can give them if they do not want to be overcome by the one who would destroy all of Gods gardens if he could for every garden has an enemy.
How are your defences today? Is your hedge of faith, built up from answered prayers and trust in the Lord and the knowledge of your salvation thick and strong and fashioned with the sharp thorns of the Word of God which the enemy cannot penetrate or has it grown a bit sickly and bare in patches? If that is so build up your defences folk for the enemy is prowling round like an angry beast testing for the weak places every day.
Or are you maybe a wild flower struggling by the side of the road, sickly for want of care and cultivation or growing out of control in the hedgerows, you may say yes I may be small and struggling and rooted in poor soil but I am wild and free and I flower where I will. That may be so, freedom seems a wonderful thing to the wild soul, but when you are transplanted into a garden you will know true freedom. The freedom to be nourished and cultivated into the bloom you always had it in your roots to be. Finally at home to grow strong and healthy and loved and bear more fruit than you could ever dream of.
I remember the seasons in my garden with pleasure. The summer time when everything was growing and flourishing and the sun shone and we could sit and rest and count our blessings. The autumn when we harvested the veggies and fruit and the leaves would start to change the garden into a mix of wonderful colours then fall and all the dead wood was pruned ( a painful business for both tree and gardener) and bonfires were built and enjoyed by the children. The harvest time was here and all was stored away. The seeds of bedding plants carefully stored for next year and bulbs planted. In my spiritual garden this is a time to take count, to reassess and and come closer to God after a fruitful time of blessing and prepare for the winter by ridding myself of all that does not bear fruit as He prunes it away. A time for repentance and to lay any harvest at His feet.
Then the winter comes and trees are bare and harsh winds blow, snow may cover the ground and all the blossoms except the most hardy die back. The garden can look barren and forsaken and we have times like that in our spiritual lives I think. We see no growth, we feel shaken by the winds of sickness, poverty or change in circumstance. It feels too cold to sit with Father in our Gardens to talk and plan now, And the darkness of a winter despair can be at our hearts., But most of us have seen many winters in our gardens and know that at last if we can hang on spring will soon be here... A green shoot here and a clump of snowdrops there, the weather becomes warmer and we begin to feel hope again and we know that Our Father the gardener has always been there even when we haven’t felt His presence and the death of winter was really only the painful pause before the effort and challenge of new beginnings.
I think back to another Garden, the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus was so deeply distressed and troubled, who needed His friends to just be with Him but they failed Him and fell asleep while He felt utterly"overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death" It must have been unimaginably hard for this man of 33, who was wholly God and Wholly man to contemplate the horror of taking our sin upon Himself and giving Himself to the horror of torture and of death by crucifixion. Did He think about how much the nails would hurt ? Did He know He would for the first time in eternity be without His Fathers presence?
Did He fear the pain and torment and humiliation and the unimaginable burden of our sin? No wonder He asked His Dad if the cup could be taken away but He bowed His head to His Fathers will and in the quiet and beautiful Olive grove of Gethsemane was the battle for our eternity fought and won by His acceptance. And then another Garden, not at night this time but a bright morning, where a heartbroken woman goes to tend to the body of her beloved Master in a garden tomb but finds the tomb empty and her Lord gone.She tells Peter and John that someone has taken the body and they return with her to see the empty grave clothes lying in the place of burial and went away wondering.
But Mary stayed. She takes one more look inside, and there they are angels, one at the head and one at the feet of where He should have been laying.They asked her why she was crying but she couldn’t answer but through her tears she saw what she thought was the gardener as she turned away, and he asked her the same question and she asked if he had moved the body and if so could she go and get it... Anything so she could see Him again and tend to Him and this gardener said just one word "Mary" and her world was made wonderful again for she recognised Him at last through her tears and by His voice.
No more Gethsemanes for Jesus of Nazareth, only glory and victory and resurrection from the dead. The Lord of Lords and King of Kings, standing outside of the garden tomb which could never hold Him, back from the death which could never finish Him. Alive forever. Do you know Him today? Have you met Him yet? Has He spoken your name and you have turned away? Or have you let winter despair rob you of seeing the hope of springtime? If any of those answers hit a nerve in your spirit today, do something about it whilst there is still time. Because even the best of gardeners know that there is a time when borders have to be dug up and made completely new. In tears she looks about for the answer and sees a man she thinks is the gardener and asks through her tears and despair.
Pastor Gordon Guillermo Burgess
Facebook: Alicante Church Of The Good Shepherd
Pastor Gordon Guillermo Burgess
Facebook: Alicante Church Of The Good Shepherd