4:15 “A fountain of gardens…” Think more with me about how a garden enclosed becomes a fountain of gardens. Do you enjoy gardening? It is a favorite pastime of mine…not because I enjoy the work, but because I love the results! I particularly love perennials, because they come back year after year and multiply. It is springtime out my window now, and there is indeed a “host, a crowd of golden daffodils” edging the driveway and woods…dancing with the hyacinths in the garden and beckoning me down our woodland path. But, this is only a beginning. I know that a parade of tulips and lilacs will follow in May…then peonies…glorious roses and irises in June…a rainbow of lilies in July…roses of Sharon in August, and chrysanthemums in September…supported by daises, delphiniums, holly hocks…on and on! Our yard was not always so lushly adorned. When we first moved in, there was not a garden to be found and hardly a flower blooming! The builders had the modern “low maintenance, shrub only” philosophy. The transformation started with a few bulbs here, and a few sale finds there. My husband put in a big vegetable garden in the field that had once been an asparagus farm. When our toddlers started falling into the swimming pool, my husband and our older sons put up a pretty wooden fence, which I edged with grape vines and blackberry bushes interspersed with flowers. The edge of the lake became a wildflower garden with marsh marigolds, flags, and forget-me-nots transplanted from our previous home. In front of the shrubbery around the house, we planted perennials. Every winter, I paged through seed catalogues and dreamed of what garden to make the next spring. Creeping phlox one spring…blackberries one fall. I remember digging wild roses out of the woods and transplanting them along the fence line of our road where they could stretch and breathe in the open sunshine. (And I remember the severe case of poison ivy I developed from those first forays into the woods!) I remember the year there was a wonderful sale on hybrid tea roses, and I spent a day sloshing in the mud and singin’ in the rain while I made a rose garden. I remember all the roses that died out along our garden fence when a neighbor ran a weed whacker along his side of the fence, and the field of daffodils my husband accidentally mowed down. I remember the hosta lilies and bleeding hearts I transplanted into our woods, and the violets and lily-of-the-valleys that made the journey from our trout pond in Marquette to brighten our new swamp..and the delight I found in discovering that our new woods had snowy trillium, spotty yellow trout lilies, and hepatica, just like our woods up north!
I remember the triumphs and defeats, the joys and woes, the successes and failures, and all the lessons learned along the way as we turned our new property into a veritable “fountain of gardens.” There were years of hard work and expense— “blood, sweat, and tears”—that went into (and are still going into) the development of our little piece of property. As I work to transform this bit of earthly sod into our personal Garden of Eden, I am poignantly reminded of how God patiently works in my life to transform it into the beautiful masterpiece he wants me to become.
One of the encouraging things about our gardens is to see the gradual improvement over the years. No, our property isn’t perfect, and no, it isn’t complete. Far, far from it! In fact, the harder we try, the more we see the endless possibilities and overwhelming amount of work that could be done! And yet, it is so much lovelier than it was when we first bought it! When we first bought our home, the woods was nothing but a tangle of wild grapes and poison ivy vines threatening to undo us if we dared to enter the wooded swamp. There were mosquitoes galore, and no way to ford the mucky stream across the bayou into the swamp. Five years later, a lovely wood-chipped trail meanders through the woods, and a little bridge crosses the stream. Some of the beauties that lay hidden there all the time…like the delicate woodland roses…have been dug up and transplanted to a sunny spot here and there where all can enjoy their beauty. How like our Master, who redeems us, makes inroads into our hearts, and finds the gifts that were latent within us, bringing them out into the open for all to enjoy. (And just like our neighbor inadvertently cut down dozens of wild roses, so people will trample many of the spiritual gifts we offer them!) Can you see the beautiful parallels? Everything the Lord gives us in this life is to teach us some spiritual truth! Do you have a garden? Let the unending battle with weeds teach you of the unending battle against sin in our hearts. Let the gradual progress encourage you in your own growth. No, our gardens will never be “perfect and complete” in this life—nor will our hearts—but someday…someday we shall be like him in all his glory, for we shall see him as he is! “But until then, my heart will go on singing, until then, with joy I’ll carry on. Until the day, my eyes behold His glory, until the day he calls me home” (Stuart Hamblen).