Monday, August 19, 2013

The Garden of My Heart

I have quite a productive day today.  After the many weeks of downpour,  I spent the whole day gardening and weeding (though I left the mowing of the lawn to the professionals!). 
This garden was established a little more than two years ago.  It was an exciting time.  I got to choose the plants and I had specified the “native” plants as they were supposed to be sturdy and more weather-permitting.  When the land developers had put in the landscaping for the house, I couldn’t believe my eyes! The plants they brought in were tiny, scrawny, and unimpressive.  
Sensing my lack of enthusiasm, the landscaper urged me to “just wait and see.”  Come Spring that year, the scene was spectacular! The native plants bloomed like wild fire!  But oh, the weeds—my heavens, the weeds!

This year, I wrecked havoc to the garden plots!  And to top it all, I must have broken my back bending down turning over the soil!  What hard work!

When weeds grow,  the plants are destroyed and the garden suffers.  Weeds steal the nutrients that help the good plants grow. Weeding is hard work but it is necessary for the plants to grow healthy and disease-free.
My  heart is my garden.  For a good spiritual garden, weeds must be pulled out:  weeds of unforgiveness, self-pity, envy, bad thoughts, rebellion, disobedience, and so forth.
I know for sure that the One who has chosen me to be His own longs to find delight in the garden of my heart.  I will carefully tend it by spending time with the Father in prayer and intimate worship.
"Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." Proverbs 4:23
Have you done a heart gardening lately? Are you tending your Spiritual garden or do you have some "weeds" still growing in the garden of your heart?  Don’t let it grow wild.  Pull them out now, and let God’s grace cultivate the seeds of  love, righteousness and truth. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Safe Haven

(shot taken on November 2010 at Herdsman Lake, WA)

Yesterday was my usual “powerhouse laundry and cleaning” type of day.  You know the type when just spend the whole day keeping house.  I popped in this fairly nice movie, “Safe Haven” portrayed by Julianne Hough and Joash Duhamel, While folding the new laundered clothes fresh from the dryer.  A suspenseful movie about a young lady (Katie) trying to escape from an abusive husband who beats her to pieces.  Her past sets her on a fearful, shattering journey across the country, to the sheltered oasis of Southport. She then landed into this remote place and met a widower (Alex) forces her to confront the dark secret that haunts her.  As Katie begins to fall for Alex more and more, she is still haunted by her past and isn't sure what her next move should be. Thus the melodrama begins.

“There's no safer place for you than here with me.”  These
were the words of Alex when he found out everything about this woman. 

Then, it made me think.

I am still settling down from a 4-week homecoming vacation and at several occasions, I wish I didn’t have to come back to the “grind”.  You see, I realized coming back to work was my greatest FEAR:  of making a mistake,  of the shift work and of not getting enough rest and sleep, of limited support from the workplace, amongst the many qualms. 

Then, it struck me.

I have a friend who is battling with stage 4 cancer.  We all do not know how long he is going to last.  I saw him early this week and I was just torn into pieces.  He is only 30, young and full of dreams for his young family.

“Why?  Why Lord?”  I was driving home baffled.  I was trying to hold my tears.  The query lingered in my mind until I came home.  It brought me down to my knees.  I realized it could happen to me too!

“He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.”  Psalm 91:4 NLT

He will cover you with his feathers.
  As birds do their young, who cannot cover themselves.  This they do from a tender regard to them, whereby they both keep them warm, and protect them from those that would hurt them. 

This represents the helpless state of the children of God, who are, like to young birds, weak and unable to defend themselves: the tender regard of God unto them, as the eagle and other birds have to their young; and the warmth and comforts souls have, as well as protection, under His powerful and gracious presence; He comforts them under their tribulations, as well as defends them from their enemies:

The psalm above was speaking to me as if it were the same words uttered in the movie, “There’s no safer place for you than here with me.”

The psalm can be both victorious and confusing.    It is a victorious psalm because it is full of promises of God’s protection on those who turn to Him for their refuge and was actually written as a song. On the other hand, it is quite disturbing because so often it seems to not be the case in our life experiences.

Life experiences such as: Christians who pray for healing only to hear silence? Why do children die of SIDS or have birth defects? Why is there so much suffering among people who believe God is good and can always be trusted? Why do marriages that start at the foot of the cross end up in devastating divorce leaving the children torn and demoralized?  And why this young friend suffer from stage 4 cancer leaving behind a beautiful wife and gorgeous son to fend for themselves?  Why? 

Questions were racing through my mind.

Bad things do happen to good people. We live in an imperfect and fallen world and no one is immune to the pains of life.

While we still experience suffering and evil in this fallen world, God has promised divine protection and deliverance.  God will give complete security and victory to the person who dwells in Him and puts his trust in Him (no matter what is happening in the physical realm). Intimacy and faith will be the fruit of this in our lives.

There is a better place than in the misery, the pain, the heartbreak. Let us be  strong in the Lord and powerful in His might!  If safety, security, and love are not enough, maybe it isn't where you need to be, but I want that place. There is a yearning in my heart to be closer than I have ever been to my Lord. It does take diligence, and yes, time to get there, but once you achieve this goal, you will KNOW just how precious and personal your walk with the Lord can be.

And you know what? There is one more extremely valuable commodity associated with being in that secret place.  PEACE!!!


Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
This I declare about the LORD:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him.
For he will rescue you from every trap
and protect you from deadly disease.
He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
nor the arrow that flies in the day.
Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
Though a thousand fall at your side,
though ten thousand are dying around you,
these evils will not touch you.
Just open your eyes,
and see how the wicked are punished.
If you make the LORD your refuge,
if you make the Most High your shelter,
no evil will conquer you;
no plague will come near your home.
For he will order his angels
to protect you wherever you go.
They will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
You will trample upon lions and cobras;
you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!
The LORD says, “I will rescue those who love me.
I will protect those who trust in my name.
When they call on me, I will answer;
I will be with them in trouble.
I will rescue and honor them.
I will reward them with a long life
and give them my salvation.”