I used to tell a story about a girl I knew. I admired her because she lived such a relaxed way of life and followed all of her dreams. She loved to sit in the sunshine, reading books and writing in her journals. Her favorite place to sit was in the back corner of her garden, where she could appreciate the colors from fruits, vegetables and flowers that burst forth like a rainbow – a garden that she lovingly created and cared for. She loved her dogs who laid at her feet, in the sunshine, while she read. Every once in a while, they’d bring a ball to her and without a thought, she’d begin to toss it. Time meant nothing to her. She drifted through her days as if it was a dance she did with fluid movement. Even at work, she was proficient, but relaxed and always smiling. After her day at work, she’d prepare a meal that was simple but beautiful; most coming from her own garden. She loved and embraced life…always.
Oh, how I admired everything about her. She would fill my mind, my dreams, my longings. I wanted to be just like her. Truth of the matter is, this girl was me. She was the imaginary girl who lived in my heart; who I chased after for years and years, but always seemed just outside of my reach.
While I’ve always had a zest for life, I’ve also had a very busy life. Even friends and family would comment on how busy we were and how difficult we were to get a hold of. We often would see ourselves coming and going. I sometimes wondered what the neighbors thought. They’d see me dash out for work, almost always late. I’d get home afterwards, only to run inside long enough to change and then we’d be back out the door to head for whatever was on the schedule for that evening.
Oh yeah…I sought that girl out with a vengeance!
It was four months before I turned 50 that my husband asked me what I wanted for my birthday. I couldn’t think of a single thing. I love perfume, jewelry, clothes…and all the other stuff that us girls enjoy, but I’m particular – and quirky – about things, so that’s something I never ask for.
It was during a Wednesday evening study, that I taught at church, I came across a verse that made me stop and read, re-read, and read again…
Hosea 10:12: ‘Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.’
It was like that moment in “Field of Dreams” where he heard, “If you build it, they will come.” I giggle at that now, but it was as if my heart burst wide open and I could swear I heard a whisper. I couldn’t wait for the group to end so I could call my husband.
When he answered the phone I blurted out, “I know what I want for my birthday!”
“What?!” he asked, sounding perplexed by my excitement.
“A garden! I want a garden! I want you to build me a big garden!” …and then a long pause.
Now let me explain, I’ve “tried” gardens in the past – which has always ended up with pots filled with little spindly, and pretty much dead, plants that never produced anything more than the size of a dime. The only reason they lasted as long as they did was because my husband, bless his heart, took over the watering when I would begin to abandon them. So, I’m sure my outburst caused him to think about all the work he would end up doing.
Which is probably why his first question was, “…and who is going to take care of this garden?” I blurted out quickly, “Me! It’s going to be my garden!” …another long pause.
It was like the child begging to keep the puppy, as I explained to him how “I know haven’t been good at taking care of a garden, but it’s always been because life was just so busy, and I promise, I’ll take care of it this time.” I told him about my study and how I read that verse and just really feel like I need a garden. That was enough for him. My husband would never stand in the way of something that I felt God whispered into my ear.
So that weekend, he headed for the hardware store to start buying the supplies. I had the perfect corner in my backyard and together we tore up the grass, tilled the earth, made the boxes – and began the design and creation of my garden.
Now, before I go any further…let me just say that I know Hosea 10:12 is not about planting a garden. But I do know that God used that verse to speak into the depths of my heart where “that girl” lives. It was as if He was showing me how to reach her…by reaching Him.
When I walked through my garden gate for the very first time, I prayed and asked God to always meet me there. I spent the early spring preparing the soil, understanding how beautiful earth worms are, planting my seedlings, watering and weeding. Through it all, I heard his whispers…showing me who I was and who He was.
I learned how my life is a reflection of my garden and my relationship with Him. How he prepares, plants, waters and weeds, to create something beautiful. The greatest part of the gardening process is the harvest season; when everything begins to bloom and grow until it turns into what it was meant to be all along. A tiny seed becomes something beautiful.
My favorite area of my garden is the back corner, where a pretty chair sits. I read books, write in my journals, and throw the ball for my dogs.
I believe that God has planted in each one of us a seed. We find the pieces in our dreams and longings, but it’s up to us to slow down, rest and listen. Life throws obstacles and discouragement and we begin to question them and can’t hear His whispers with all the noise.
So let me ask you. What are your dreams and longings? Have you always wanted to write, paint, take photographs, play a musical instrument…plant a garden? Maybe all of the above.
I want to encourage you to pursue whatever it is that tugs at the depths of your heart. When you begin to pursue those things…in a sense, you will be pursuing Him. You will begin to learn things about yourself that you never knew or maybe things you’ve tucked away. More importantly, He will teach you about Him as he begins to open the eyes of your heart.
Just like the seeds in a garden, He will reveal to you what you were meant to be all along.