Tradition has it that James, a servant of Jesus, prayed with great dedication. They say he spent so much time at it, that his knees became calloused from all the kneeling! He wrote a short letter in the Bible and today I saw something in it that made me think.
In the Message Bible, it reads: In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life’. James 1: 21 b.
It made me realise that God must enjoy planning how he wants to make us! Those who’ve tried to create a garden from scratch will know how much work it takes to envision, cultivate and finally nurture a beautiful landscape. But it is a wonderful feeling when it is accomplished!
Maurie and I are currently planning a new garden. Some of the features were already there when we bought the house. We’ll keep a few, but others are not so desirable. I’m sure God loves every plant and calls them good, but not all of them should live together!
I’ve tried to imagine how our garden might look, with paths here and there and one more tree in the limited space! Just thinking about it all was too much for my mind to conceive, so I turned to the advice of Old Camel Knees for inspiration! (Maybe his calloused knees were also the result of much weeding! Perhaps that’s where he prayed?)
I know his words in the Bible apply to the spiritual part of my life. It takes ‘simple humility’ to let God be the designer of a natural garden, but we need it especially when he works in us, his garden.
He begins with the soil. Jesus once mentioned soil in a story. He said it can be shallow, weedy, stony or very good and all types react to seeds in their own way. (You can read about it in chapter 11 of the Gospel of Matthew in the Bible.) What does God think of my soil, I wondered. I pictured him adding nutrients to my dirty contribution, digging it over, removing weeds and designing hills so it drained well. Does he begin afresh, or use the elements from my old life that are already there? No! He makes me new!
James also wrote this: throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage.
Who would want those things, anyway? They’re the weeds, the rubbish, the dangerous ‘plants’ in our lives. Sensitive or overwhelming bushes should be eradicated so the rest have room to flourish. Who wants a large yukka squashed right up against a productive peach tree? Now what did Old Camel Knees mean when he wrote that God would ‘landscape you with the Word?’
God only speaks the truth. He is Truth. When he needs to create, he says what he wants and it is! He’s uttered a lot of truths and they’re recorded in the Bible. They’re so amazing that just by believing and doing them, we become beautiful!
Finally I pondered what James meant by ‘a salvation-garden’. How can my life provide salvation?
In a natural garden, beauty, peace and refreshment are some of the pleasures that draw people in. When I let God landscape my life, it will become a haven for those who are looking for these treasures and more. Only God can make me like that!
I’ve written a poem about it and I’d like to share it with you.
Salvation in God’s Garden
Deep into the inner
real part of me
You speak Your Word
it echoes there
Know peace and harmony
My life sheds
all the gravel
the prickly, unwanted loss
In the gain
comes refreshing rain.
I know Your touch
so much, so new
Lyn Thiele ~ June 2016