Thursday, May 3, 2012
“Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him,
for he shields him all day long, and the one the
Lord loves rests between his shoulders.”
I’ve never really thought of myself as a gardener; and still don’t, really. But I have discovered an undeniable interest in planting things and watching them grow. And not just any things, but beautiful things, flowers mostly. I guess that’s the difference between a gardener and a farmer—gardeners plant flowers and farmers plant vegetables. I’m definitely a flower guy; which is a little hard to admit. The words flower and guy don’t particularly go hand-in-hand in my mind, but I really like them nonetheless…and more and more as I get older. It’s kind of like watching birds; it is something I could’ve never imagined enjoying back in my younger days, but as I have gotten older I have discovered I really like it.
Well, this new-found interest in gardening has begun to work its way out into my life…and into my yard. In fact, I have this space in my backyard that I absolutely love. I call it my spot. It is a peaceful and quiet place that I escape to from time to time for silence and solitude. And, as a result, it is a space that I take special care of; a space I am very intentional about, one that I try to plant beautiful things in…two azalea bushes a couple of years ago, two small dogwood trees last year, roses and rhododendron this year. Add to that a couple of chairs, a fire pit, a bird feeder, and two bluebird houses and there you have it.
The other day, as I was creating a little flowerbed to plant some of these beautiful things in, I began to realize that what I was doing in my yard was really what I most deeply desire to do in my life—to plant something beautiful within the hearts and souls of those that God brings across my path. Not something of me; nothing that I have created or dreamt up, but something of God; something beautiful that He has planted within me. Maybe that’s really what ministry is all about; listening deeply to Him, recognizing the beautiful things He is planting within us, and offering those things to folks in our lives and world. And maybe the only question I really need to pay attention to is: “God, what beautiful thing—that you have planted in me—do you want me to plant into this dear one that is sitting with me at the moment?”
That’s where the Deuteronomy passage comes in. Moses is at the end of his life and mission; he has finished his race and has passed the baton of leadership on to Joshua. Now all that is left for him to do is utter his final words. Can you imagine the care, and the prayer, and the thought, and the intention he put into the process of choosing the words he—and more appropriately God—wanted ringing in the ears of the nation of Israel at this key moment in their life and history. You can almost see the smile on his face as he thinks of each tribe individually, considers the state of their hearts, and his hopes and dreams for each of them. And after all the thinking and the considering and the hoping and the dreaming and the praying, he gathers the entire nation together in order to give each of them a blessing. And what a blessing it is! In fact, as he blesses each tribe, it’s hard not to get the image of him simply trying to plant something beautiful within their hearts and souls; something that will bring life and bear fruit for years and years to come; something that will help them be exactly what both Isaiah and Jeremiah imagined—a well-watered garden. And maybe that’s all a blessing is anyway—planting something beautiful in a heart or soul. And maybe that’s exactly what a blessing was intended to do in the first place—to create life and bear fruit. So he plants the words of blessing in the soil of their souls, and prays that it will begin to take root. And what rich and beautiful words they are…“Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders.” And the garden of God’s delight becomes, a little at a time, more and more beautiful.