It is no accident that I have named my blog The Middle of the Garden. I see my life in Jesus Christ as one where I have been placed in my own garden by God at the moment I accepted Jesus as my Savior. I was given the opportunity to grow in my garden and given the opportunity to be the caretaker of my garden just as Adam was in the Garden of Eden. Each one of us in Christ are transferred out of the kingdom of darkness, which is this present world, and have been transferred in the spirit into Jesus’ kingdom of light. In this kingdom what I see, what I experience is like a garden. I can grow and cultivate that which cultivates new life within me or I can leave my garden untended and it can grow weeds. It is my choice.
I just have to be aware that in order for my garden to be a thing of beauty and one that springs forth new life, health and strength for my life, I have to work. I have to work hard. The easier way would be to sit back and let anything grow there that wanted to grow. But, I must know that if I choose to let that happen I run the risk of losing my garden altogether due to neglect. I have to foster the things in my life that I need to have, be and use in the future. Just as I am a planting of the Lord in His kingdom I also must follow Jesus’ example and plant, encourage, learn, nourish and expose to the Light my plantings in my own “kingdom”.
As Jesus looks down on me in my garden He can quickly ascertain how well I have tended it. He can see the care and He can see the weeds. He can see the rocks that I’ve failed to clear out and He can see when the weeds obscure the light to my plantings. It doesn’t take a trained gardeners eye to see how well someone has done with their garden it only takes a quick glance and you are familiar with the state of affairs within that person’s spiritual life.
I am using a garden here, as a metaphor for what we allow into our life in the real world. Our real world is a dark spiritual soup and it is constantly encouraging us to leave our garden untended and to just walk away from it. It is encouraging us to sit more than exercise, to watch TV more than read a book and to take a vacation more than work. The spiritual soup of this world encourages us to eat more than we need, to spend more than we have and to take care of our needs first before taking care of others. It wants us to indulge and be selfish. We are bombarded with these messages.
God, however, desires for us is to take Jesus’ Way. He wants us to combat these dark spiritual forces with those things that darkness, laziness, self-centeredness and violence have no power over. He wants us to take up our shield of faith and stand firm against these powerful forces that seek to dray us down. He wants us to plant kindness, forgiveness, justice, love, faith and hope. He wants us to get up and make a difference in tending and keeping our garden. That is a very difficult thing to do and at times it feels so burdensome that we end up becoming weary in well doing eventually dropping the whole thing.
That is why it is so much easier as a Christian to give up and give in. It is easier to indulge than to abstain. It is easier to slide down the hill than it is to trudge up the hill. A person is seen as uptight and narrow-minded as they are watched by the downhill sliders as they try to climb the mountain of faith.
But the mountain of faith is just that…it’s a mountain. That is, faith in Jesus Christ. It is my contention that everyone has faith in something. It may be that they have faith that the sun is going to rise tomorrow or that they will be home for dinner by 6 pm but they have faith in something. We have so many things that we put our faith in that we don’t even think about them anymore. We have faith that our car will start when we turn the key or press the start button. We don’t think twice about it. We have faith that the microwave will make things hotter and the refrigerator will make things colder. We like this kind of faith because we feel empowered by it. We feel in control of the microwave and the refrigerator. We feel that these things are our slaves, they are under our thumb and work for us at our bidding. But, we feel uncomfortable at the idea of the thing, person or God which has control over us and we feel are under its thumb and are its slave. We want the thing, person or god to submit to our whims and desires and we strain at the idea that we must submit to its.
I think also that people have a mindset that they have faith in. They have patterns of behavior, thought and actions that are intertwined to produce a tried and true pattern of predicting how future events will unfold in their life. In other words, it worked before and so I have faith in that system that it will work again. In comparison, Christians who have trusted and relied on God in the past have learned that principle of faith as well. They know they can trust in Jesus and that future events that unfold in their life can be submitted to Him and they can be assured that He will carry them through.
However, when a person puts their faith in things of this world they are not putting their faith in something that cannot ever fail them. The systems of this world are limited in both scope and power. And if we continue to use them and they begin to fail us we are a people known to keep trying that old system again and again. In fact, we keep at a failing system to deal with navigating our life even though we know that it has not worked the past several times we’ve used it. We have such a clear memory of the times that it did work and worked brilliantly that we cannot break the link of faith that we had with it.
Here’s an example. Many years ago I had a great deal of success with a diet. I lost all the weight I needed to lose and was able to control my weight well for a long period of time. I always felt like I was trying to dance on the head of a pin with this diet and I found that my thoughts were utterly consumed with the long mental list of do’s and don’ts to keep balancing on the head of this pin (known as my diet). Finally, I gained weight. I slid downhill because I had to let go of the super tight mental control it took for me to stay on it. But, the memory of how good I looked and how well I felt on this diet were seared into my brain. My thinking was that I did it once so now I could just do it again, right? Wrong. I couldn’t get back on it. I tried for decades to get back on that diet and I couldn’t do it for more than a day. My number of attempts to get back on that diet probably exceeded the number of days I was originally on it. Yet, I kept trying a failed pattern of eating because I had faith in that diet.
This is exactly the place where darkness wanted me to be. I was defeated and I felt defeated. I cried out to the Lord so many times that I should have just recorded it on a loop and played it for the Lord every day. I’m sure God was tired of hearing about it. I was trying to plead with God to get a fallible diet to control me because I could not control me. God was going to have NO part in that. And in truth I was going to have no part in it either. My entire being cried out to me saying, “ENOUGH!”. I was tired of being a slave to that diet and tired of the contorted balancing act I had to do in order to maintain it.
The scriptures say this in a very frank way. It says that “a dog will return to its own vomit”. We humans do that and it has become a predictable pattern of living. God sees it and has a hard time getting us out of this practice. The darkness of the void sees it too and uses it to control us, manipulate us and to get us further entrapped us in our self defeating mental rut. We don’t want to see ourselves as wanting to return to our own vomit because we remember the strong positive feeling of empowerment that we had and are willing to do anything to get that feeling back. If that means eating our own vomit we’ll do it.
Control is at the heart of all of this. My diet was a way of trying to control myself. I gave myself over to my diet and truthfully, as I look back at it, I am unsure that this diet wasn’t just my own attempt at eating as an anorexic would. I ate very little. I was also very moody. Many times I had dark circles under my eyes. Even though I now think that it was unhealthy the truth is that if I could get it to work I would probably go back to it again. That is sad.
That was what I had planted in my spiritual garden. I had faith in that planting that it would keep my eating in line. It was just a weed that I nurtured and encouraged to grow. It obscured the light so that the other plants in my garden (which I truthfully needed much more) were choked off and withered.
So, the weed got all of my care, faith and admiration. I let the weed grow and it grew easily because I was getting the end result in my life that I really wanted. As Jesus came along to walk and talk with me in my garden He saw the huge weed there and knew the spiritual state of my heart and soul. He knew I was headed for trouble. Even though I didn’t see it as a blessing that I could never get back on that diet, I know Jesus gave to me what I needed rather than what I desired.
So, here I am in my garden of Jesus’ light and life. My garden sits in the middle of a spiritual soup mixture of light and darkness, good and bad. I seek to be in control of it and yet seek to turn over control of me in my garden to Jesus.
That’s it for today, but there is so much more about Understanding the spiritual soup in which we live that I hope you will come back and sit with me a while in the middle of my garden.
As always, in Christ,
Janet Williams…..THE MIDDLE OF THE GARDEN…..A BLOG TO SEE