Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Garden (09/07/06)
TITLE: AM I A GARDENIA?
By Ruth Renwick
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How did gardenias get their name, I mused, as I carefully pruned a branch here and trimmed a tip there. Leaning back I admired my handiwork. I could almost inhale the intoxicating fragrance of the velvet cream flowers I knew would later adorn all the gardenias with bouquet bursts of beauty. Gardener’s delight! That’s what gardenia must mean.
Something caught my eye. Aagh! Not another cigarette butt! Stepping over to pick it up I felt the squish of something under my shoe. Yuk! With disgust I pulled the sticky bubble gum off the sole of my shoe.
All was not well with my soul.
Does anyone at church even notice what I do in the gardens, let alone care? It seemed like the gardens were treated like a dump – somewhere to throw butts, used tea bags and other assorted rubbish. Other times I lamented over another broken plant that had been carelessly stepped on.
After putting in new plants in one of the garden beds I had boldly put in signs asking people to PLEASE KEEP OFF THE GARDENS. Soon after, I watched the irony of a man tying his dog to one of the signposts. Of course it later dug up some of the garden bed.
Before I started working in the gardens I didn’t worry too much about them. It did bother me, though, that in a Christian Life Centre the gardens were half dead. It just didn’t seem right.
I sighed as I tried to dig the rest of bubble gum out of the grooves in my sole with a stick. Maybe it was just like bad attitudes sticking to my soul.
God, what are you trying to teach me in this place? I should be content to tend this garden as it must be your will for me right now. But God, it feels like a wilderness at times! I pull and dig at weeds but more just keep growing. I would rather be helping people to grow but for some reason you seem to have removed me from places where I can readily do that. Am I being disciplined for something I have done wrong?
It has been said that “you are pruned if you do and pruned if you don’t”. Perhaps, then, you are just wanting me to produce more fruit than I have before. As I have carefully pruned the gardenias, you trim me so I can produce more of your heavenly fragrance for others to be blessed. You are the Gardener. May I delight you!
Lord, help me to be content where you have placed me and learn all you want me to. Even though I feel like what I am doing is insignificant and does not impact anyone’s life, please show me how I can honour you in every aspect of it.
Holy Spirit, remind me to pray as I work. As I pull out weeds convict me to pray that anything in myself or our church that is not pleasing to you will be pulled out by the roots. When I spray the weeds with poison may I declare, “Satan, your schemes are powerless here. You are dead already!”
As I work outside I will declare your authority and take up the responsibility to pray for those in the offices who have so much need of your wisdom and anointing.
When I prune branches I will pray for new and healthy growth amongst our church family. As I put in new plants and nurture them until they are established I will pray for the new souls to be born in this church. They will become rooted and grounded in God and His Word until they come to maturity. Not one will be lost.
So often, when I am gardening I see cars drive into our car park, turn around, and then drive out. Perhaps they think it is a convenient place to turn around off the busy highway, or they are just curious. Now I see that I have the privilege of working with your Holy Spirit by praying for those who you are drawing to yourself. Maybe the sweaty, dirty, but smiling gardener will make them feel they can come to church just as they are. Maybe the gardens will speak to them of LIFE.
Yes, there are other things I could do. But for now, “I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God”. (Psalm 84: 10 NIV)
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