Meeting God in the Garden
Matthew 19:16, 21-22 Someone came to Jesus with this question: "Teacher, what good things must I do to have eternal life?" Jesus told him, "If you want to be perfect, go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." But when the rich young man hea
My garden shed is hopelessly filled with stuff.
Its kind of a big shed, as garden sheds in small suburban lots go, and its packed with all sorts of garden implements and the trappings of planting, harvesting and maintaining my yard. Its so full that I shiver in fear whenever I have to get something out of it. Whatever I want is certainly always under or behind a whole pile of other things, and something is bound to fall on me or scratch me when I try to fish that one thing out.
I dont even know what all is in there, because I cant see it all from the door. And its so packed that I cant get in any deeper than the door!
It started out empty. When I moved into my house, the shed was sitting there in the corner of the yard, empty except for a roll of plastic and the remains of a mouses nest.
Little by little, I collected all these tools, pots, mowers (Ive got two!), lawn chairs, umbrellas, and the other whatnots that make up that mess. Each time I brought home a new tool, Im sure I thought (with pride and excitement), Now this is just the thing I needed! Now gardening is going to be better, because this whatever has come into my life!
But as I added the new items to the old, my gardening life did not always get better. That tool, pot, etc, that I thought would be my savior eventually left me dissatisfied, longing for the next object of desire that would be the one to fulfill me. Now, my shed is so full of these wonderful items (six hoses and five sprinklers for a 67 x 135 foot lot occupied mostly by the house and driveway), that I cannot enjoy any of them. I cant find any of them to enjoy! But I am not willing to get rid of any of them, because they might be essential to my next garden. So I cling to what I cannot use.
At some point, we stop owning our things and they start owning us.
Its the same way when we try to be Christians by simply adding Jesus to our already hectic lives. He becomes just one more item that we have to find the time and energy to maintain. Instead of being the Lord and center of our lives, He is that tool over there under the pruning saw and next to the trowels. Instead of being in the most honored position, He is lost in the clutter of things that bring us no satisfaction, something we look for only when we need His help or want to show Him off to the neighbors.
Salvation cannot be found in adding Jesus to your already hectic life, full of all the consumeristic cravings and trappings of the American Dream; its found in replacing those craving for those things with the craving for Him, and in replacing that American Dream with His Dream. Its found in giving yourself fully to God, all your needs, all your future, all your cravings, and letting Him be your Master.
Now, I know that master is not a popular word these days. To modern Americans, it reeks of the shameful brand of slavery of our past, where the slave was abused and misused by an evil master for his own personal profit. The slave had to make all the sacrifices so the master could enjoy luxuries. The slave had to endure hard labor and indignity in order to make the master rich. The slave was beaten to death, starved to death, given no hope of future or of freedom.
But our Master, should we choose servitude to him, is the one who was humiliated, beaten, and made all the sacrifices for our benefit. He allows us to be his servants so that we can have hope for the future, so that we can lay up treasures for ourselves as well as Him, so we can have a freedom that can never be cancelled or abridged by any court or law. By giving up our consumeristic cravings, we actually become richer, not poorer. By living simpler, non-hectic lives, we actually live deeper and fuller. By submitting to His rigid assertion that He is the only way, we actually find freedom.
He has told us that if we find our joy in Him and not in the things we can buy, He will give us the true desires of our hearts; peace, freedom, satisfaction and fulfillment. He will give us the way to make our lives the richest they can possibly be. He gives us life abundantly, beyond our wildest dreams.
Secondly, salvation is not found in adding Jesus to your existing life, because in order to follow Him into the kingdom of heaven, you must put down your worldly goods and take up your cross. From Jesuss discussions with the rich young ruler, it seems that you cannot hold on to the big-screen TV and SUV and still pick up and carry your cross; your hands just arent big enough!
Recently I had a discussion with some Christian women who were unwilling to give up their jobs, even though their husbands made more than enough to support the family at modest means, and spend their time serving the Lord. Their objections were that if they quit, they would have to trade their affluent lifestyles for more modest living, and they would be unfulfilled, and their friends would mock them for not working outside the home. They wanted to be followers of Christ, but they were unwilling to see that He would meet their needs of money, fulfillment and honor.
Their hearts were so filled with the treasures of this earth that they had no room to consider the treasures of heaven, although they understood the meaning of 'where your treasure is, there your heart is also.' With great resentment and anger they insisted that God had brought them to their wealth to comfort them and make them happy. They honestly thought that they could serve two masters; their craving for more luxurious belongings, and Jesus, too. They honestly didnt think that God would give them what they needed to fulfill their lives.
In that same discussion, they kept wondering why they didnt have more peace in their lives, and why their devotional life had become so dry.
They had stopped owning their things, and their things had started owning them.
I can think of dozens of passages of the Bible that call us to sacrificial and modest living, but sadly, we are ignoring these essential teachings. We become enraged at the idea that being a Christian requires us to give something up (Matthew 19). Or that women might find honor in bringing up their own children (1Timothy 2:15). We become outraged at the concept that Christians should live distinctively humble lives (Phillipians 2:3). We cling to our things like the only life preserver on the Titanic (John 3:16-17).
How sad for us! It's time to clean out our sheds!
Matthew 6:25 "So I tell you, don't worry about everyday life whether you have enough food, drink, and clothes. Doesn't life consist of more than food and clothing?
Meeting God in the Garden
By Lydia S. Hart
Copyright 2001 Foot of the Cross Publications
Used by permission