The Other Garden

Author:  Rachelle Rieke
 
It all began in a garden.
 
Sometimes I like to close my eyes and try to imagine the splendor of Eden, the pinnacle of God’s creation aside from man himself.
 
Until it ended 
 
and the second beginning happened within another garden, Gethsemane, where Jesus began his journey of suffering in order to restore us back to our garden:
 
Eden within, 
 
a hidden place where we might again walk in the cool of the day with God.
 
I am drawn to the significance of the garden as a metaphor for the state of the heart. For some time I dealt with a root of bitterness in my heart that I refused to completely acknowledge or uproot – if you can’t see it under the soil, it’s not there right?
 
Turns out all that sowing and reaping business – you can’t get around it. The thing you allow to fall into the soil of your heart will grow and produce fruit after its kind. You can only pretend it isn’t there for so long. That thing sprouted up, squeezed out joy and over time immobilized me.
 
In that season, I remember a silky summer evening walking around Silver Lake. The bergamot burst around the edge of the water like an invasion of happy, purple sea anemones. Pausing to delight and appreciate, I looked a little closer and saw another story happening right beneath my eyes: bindweed so thick and intricately wrapped around the stalks of the plants, I could no longer see the plant stems themselves. They were totally in the dark, strangled. A little indignantly, I set to work attempting to unwind the weed from around one of the stems. In the midst of my efforts, I snapped the very stem I was trying to free. Many of the plants completely bowed over under the weight of the bindweed. I felt a mix of anger, despair at the overwhelming presence of the bindweed, and at no loss as to the spiritual parallels with the human heart.
 
A couple months later, the Lord gave me a picture of a garden, a representation of my own heart since the image of the bindweed clearly hadn’t motivated me enough to address it:
 
I came upon an old, stone wall standing sentinel around the garden within. Pushing through an arched wooden door with intricately carved scrollwork, I came into a thirsty place. Thorns and thistles were thriving. Everything was in grayscale, as if all the color had drained out through little holes poked in the image by the thorns.
 
A wrought iron bench stood in the middle of the garden upon a bare patch of flagstones. I saw myself with the Father. I stood on his toes, and we danced. He held me, my head on his chest, enfolded safely in the arms of eternity, his skin like a canvas of stars. The pure light of love in his eyes making me transparent.
 
As I looked over his shoulder, I saw Jesus a little ways over, kneeling down. He glanced up, and his face split in two with a smile that brightened the very air around him in his pleasure at seeing me with my Father. He was sweating as he worked to uproot the thorns that had choked out the life in the garden. I glimpsed his hands and saw bright crimson within all the gray. His hands were bleeding.
 
He is the gardener. In simple humility, let the gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life. (James 1:19-21). He doesn’t tire of tending the garden. He doesn’t see it for the thorns and thistles, he sees it for how he created it to be.
 
He sees you for how he created you. You are God’s cultivated garden (1 Corinthians 3:9).
 
By faith, let him weed your garden. You can’t do it on your own, or you snap other plants you didn’t intend to. By faith, spend time with your Father in the middle of it. You see it for what it is, but he shows you what he sees. 
 
As I sat with my Father, he pulled down a vision of the real garden, transposed right over the top of the field of thorns and thistles. Arbors of roses and wisteria. Trellises of clematis and honeysuckle. Every beautiful thing, but most notable was the choir of sunflowers that surrounded the bench, heralding his works.
 
As I began to feel better and caught the excitement of the vision, I felt determined to get up and help Jesus pull weeds. I wanted to help. But the look on his face imparted something to my heart – that no, it was not for me to get up and pull weeds. Even though I saw the thorns, the reality was the garden as the Father showed it to me. Jesus had already put in the work, paid the price, in order that I could have the privilege of sitting there with my Father. It was his good pleasure that I should do nothing but to be there with him. Because in truth, sitting with him is the only way to get rid of the weeds I still see and open my perspective to see the garden as he sees it.
 
As you believe it, you see your garden transformed by the work of Jesus.
 
His crimson hands are the proof it is already finished.

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