The change of season from Summer to Autumn never fails to remind me of the words in the Book of Ecclesiastes that there is a season for everything; it’s the natural order. The changes of seasons are also a glimpse of the LORD’s faithfulness to us in the natural cycles of life. We used to have a perennial garden before we became apartment dwellers; observing the array of flowers from the early Spring bloom to Autumn dormancy gave me pleasure.
During the autumn of each year, we would harvest hundreds of bulbs from the original 7 Asiatic and Oriental Lilies we planted when we first started gardening. We would spread those bulbs throughout the garden and wait for them to trumpet their glory under the summer’s sky in symphony with the other bloomers throughout our garden. Seeds and bulbs; re-recreation at its best! And so the cycle would go each year. The plants never failed to perpetually glorify the Creator in just being what they were created to be. Throughout Scripture, gardens are the metaphorical image of our life with the LORD. I kindle to the glimpse of this that we are given in the book of Isaiah.
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
and return not thither but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
“For you shall go out in joy,
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall be to the Lord for a memorial,
for an everlasting sign which shall not be cut off.”
In the New Testament, Jesus uses the image of a mustard seed for the perpetual propagation of God’s Kingdom here on earth. Mustard is similar to kudzu in that it is invasive, wildly winding its way through the soil. It quietly invaded the land. Interestingly, Jesus was speaking to Jews who valued order and had strict rules about keeping a tidy garden; they even had laws against planting mustard seed–it messed with their system! Jesus had the chutzpah to compare the kingdom of God to an invasive plant.
The problem was that many of the listeners and even some of his followers had lofty ideas about what the Kingdom of God should look like and how it should grow. In their minds, a militant order was foremost, that, and size. They probably envisioned the tall cedars of Lebanon rather than some untamed bush from a mustard seed, spreading wherever it pleased, messy, difficult to keep under control. What they couldn’t imagine is God’s Kingdom subtly and subversively taking over their well-ordered world.
Their vision of God’s Kingdom included a conquering hero, in the stature of the cedars of Lebanon. There vision of God’s Kingdom included a frontal attack on the empires and governments of the world. Power to the People! Their vision of God’s Kingdom did not include a small act of faith like a mustard seed. Their vision didn’t kindle to the idea of a subtle contagion spreading through one little beautiful life, one little act of hospitality, one little act of mercy, one little act of grace, one little act of forgiveness, one little act of trust at a time.
I wonder what this world’s kingdom would look like if our corners of God’s garden grew like mustard plants. Methinks that the Kingdom of God would invade the world with every seed of love, mercy, forgiveness, long-suffering, gentleness, peace, hope, and grace that we allowed the LORD to plant in the soil of our corner of the garden. And little by little, garden would unite with another’s garden, and then another’s and then, happy day, the trees of the field would clap their hands!
I wonder what the LORD may be up to in our gardens. He, the Master Gardener, wants to tend us, pruning, fertilizing, and watering. He desires to cover us for necessary dormancy or expose us in due season to warmth and light. To everything, there is a season.
Holy Spirit of God, would you grant us the fortitude to remain in the soil of your everlasting love for us? Help us to sow seeds of your love with a patient and joyful spirit in our corners of your Garden.
Holy Spirit of God, would you grant us insight about the corners of our garden that are dark and untended? Help us sow seeds of hope and love where weeds threaten to choke us and crowd out your light.
Holy Spirit of God, would you re-create in the empty spaces or our gardens something of your beauty and goodness? Help us to cultivate your beauty for others to behold.
In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, it is now, and ever shall be world without end.