The Garden of Faith – Devotional Series
Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in.
Hebrews 12:2a (MSG)
The seasons of our lives are marked by beginning and ending cycles. The happy moments of a quick “hello” turn into heartfelt “good-byes.” Many years of a home noisy with kids turn into a quiet empty nest. In recent years, I have lost my seventeen-year-old nephew and my elderly father. Yet, I have regained some lost relationships, too. No simple book has mapped-out how we are “supposed” to live life. We may wish to live in a certain way, but things do not turn out as we expect. We work hard, discipline ourselves, yet make many mistakes and wrong choices along the way.
Nevertheless, we must trust in the beginnings that were once planted. Beginnings are often very small. We may compare them to tiny seeds that get planted in the soil. We hope that they find their way to take root and grow, finishing their journey to full growth.
Richard Stengel wrote a book on Nelson Mandella called Mandella’s Way: Fifteen Lessons on Courage, Life, and Love (Virgin Books, 2010). A chapter entitled “Find Your Own Garden” inspired me. During Mandella’s twenty-seven years in prison, the “garden” had become his own private island. It was a haven for his mind and distracted him from his constant worry about the outside world, his family, and the struggle for freedom. The garden did not remove the hostile conditions outside or inside the prison walls but, while so much was withering outside, his garden was thriving inside.
We can discover and cultivate a place of beauty and renewal through the eyes of faith. Although our problems and the world’s difficulties continue to challenge us, we can cultivate a garden where we can fix our faith in Jesus. The seasons will change but, with the change, the seed of faith that has been planted will reward us with its fruit. Our “garden” includes our interest, aspiration, hope, and inspiration. We, ourselves, must define our own place. In cultivating our garden, we renew cherished or forgotten memories and are renewed and empowered in faith.
This garden is not a place of retreat but a place of renewal. We do not remove ourselves from life in order to cultivate this garden. The garden, as regards our call to service (i.e., our vocation), is a place of respite in order that we may do this work in faith. When we fix our eyes on Christ (Heb 12:2), he who is the author and perfecter of our faith helps us to discover the gardens we are to cultivate. In partnership with him, we bless and nurture others, bring joy, beauty, and an environment for them to join in the harvest.
Promises from the Gardener:
Listen to me, all you who are serious about right living and committed to seeking God. Ponder the rock from which you were cut, the quarry from which you were dug. Yes, ponder Abraham, your father, and Sarah, who bore you. Think of it! One solitary man when I called him, but once I blessed him, he multiplied. Likewise I, God, will comfort Zion, comfort all her mounds of ruins. I’ll transform her dead ground into Eden, her moonscape into the garden of God, A place filled with exuberance and laughter, thankful voices and melodic songs. (Isaiah 51:1–3, MSG)
The Lord will always lead you. He will satisfy your needs in dry lands and give strength to your bones. You will be like a garden that has much water, like a spring that never runs dry. (Isaiah 58:11, NCV)
A Garden for Reflecting
Please meditate on the following scriptures:
The Soil: Space for New Beginnings
For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations. (Isaiah 61:11)
The Seed: Planting the Heart
Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:21)
The Stalk: Learning to Wait
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. (Psalm 130:5)
The Leaves: Anchoring Hope
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)
The Fruit: Result of Humility
He who tends a fig tree will eat its fruit. (Proverbs 27:18a)
written by Majors Soo Jung & Young Sung Kim, Mission & Culture Department Secretary and Territorial Ambassador for Holiness, USA East