Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Garden (09/07/06)
TITLE: Gardener of My Heart
By Beth Muehlhausen
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My Lord…my God…
I bow before You, lay my whole self down, grasp your feet while my face is pushed into the barren, black dirt from which my body came. You shaped me from this stuff; I am joined to it by tiny elements of Your making.
This outspread mass of skeleton and sinew shrinks in Your presence, Lord. And yet, these trembling hands must hold fast to You and Your promise that deep down there is more to me than what I know.
Is it true that hidden beneath the surface realities of muscle, bone, and blood - beneath even mind, will, and emotions - You also created a heart where Your Spirit longs to work?
I grovel, Lord. I squirm in the dirt. I beg for You to touch and heal me. But I am afraid.
I wait. Listen.
You ask me to rise? To speak face-to-face?
Oh Lord…my God…
I am not able. I must remain here – here in the dirt.
But no, You reach out and pull me, pull me until my smeared and blackened face stands before You.
I feel faint; I must fall! Hold me Lord; strengthen my shuddering knees. My grip is numb, weak. I can’t think.
You lift me high and stand me, full of tremors, before You. Your eyes – clear lazars - descend into my soul.
Embarrassed, I stare at my dirt-stained hands…empty. Who am I, anyway? What do I have to give?
“Everything. You are able to give Me your heart.”
I am…lacking. Diminished. Without. What am I even able to receive?
“Everything. For I am the One to resurrect and restore what you give - your crippled heart.”
Your eyes – your reassuring eyes. This moment is more about You than me.
And so I hold out my dirty, stained palms. I want to release this thing You call my heart. Take it, Lord!
My tears bathe my hands as I stare through blurry eyes. Is this all I can do?
You release me to stand on my own, and then extend Your open hands next to mine.
I look at them – generous, work-worn, capable, strong.
Take me Lord…take my hands in Yours…take the essence, the core of who I am, the seat of my uniqueness as a person, the identity you gave me at the moment of conception. Take my heart as a sacrifice, the most I can offer. You do it - because I cannot.
Your eyes - again - they drill into some inner spot, deep beyond what I know. They infuse me; I sense a shift somewhere deep within my body of clay.
I turn to wipe my dirty face on my sleeve and look, again, to the ground...scuff my foot…and study the familiarity of the earth.
Our hands stand in mid-air, side-by-side. In a split second, You clasp mine in Yours.
Time seems to stand still. I can hardly breathe.
But then…You ask what I want, just like you asked the disabled man.
“Do you want to get well?”
Am I willing for You to rule my heart?
I return Your gaze and receive a surge of promise.
Yes. Yes! You may have my heart, Lord. Take it, heal and empower it. Make me into a new creature!
“Your heart is My garden – a place for fruit to grow.”
Did I understand correctly? My dormant heart will engender new life?
You hold my hands firmly and speak with authority – so that I understand the transition in progress.
“I am the Gardener of your heart. As such I will till up and remove hard, rocky ground cluttered with misconceptions and replace it with rich, loose soil. I will infuse seeds of faith, water them with Living Water, and shed continual warmth in the form of perfect love.
“I will protect your heart from pests – those intruders and weeds of self-absorption that threaten to choke out the Truth. I will enrich your heart with the Word and fertilize it with the hope that is only Mine to give. Over time your heart will yield My bounty - the fruits of My Spirit.”
I look again at our hands, clasped together as one unit, and know the transfer has been made. My heart is Yours.
“I have come that you might have life, and have it more abundantly. I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life…the Gardener of your heart.”
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