The garden has and always will be a cultivator of my soul, not just of plants.

I’ve been trying to find time to write lately, but time seems to be in short supply. Not wanting to write a depressing blog about all the things that have been hard right now, or say the “wrong” thing, I have chosen not to write anything. But let’s be honest, sometimes, that is the reality we live in. I also know, according to James 3, that the tongue can set a whole forest ablaze. I pray that these words would encourage your heart and not spark evil.

James 1: 1-12 is a piece of scripture that has followed me through life.

               James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings. Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should no expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. But the rich should take pride in their humiliation- since they will pass away like wild flower. For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away while they go about their business. Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

Each pain, sorrow, trial is different and stretches me in some new way.

Every single one has helped me develop a deeper root system. And in each one, I’ve had to search for the joy. There are many people in this world who will seek to harm you. Many around the world are experiencing the extreme side of that. Other times, it’s people within your own community that seek to malign your character, or the character of those you love.

In a time when the Lord has been teaching me that it’s not just about the plants, it’s about the people, the enemy of my soul is working hard to cause my heart to grow cold. But, he will not succeed and this momentary affliction will not go without purpose. It only deepens in me an empathy for anyone who is wrongly judged by those around them every day, for whatever reason that may be.

If you find yourself there right now may you be reminded, as I remind myself…. do not let your love grow cold.

Are you struggling? Get in the Word of God.

Unsure what’s right, wrong, sinful or not sinful? Seek truth in the Word of God.

Not sure how to respond to that person who seeks to harm you? Pray. Pray, and seek wisdom in the Word of God.

Wondering if you should speak up or be still? Me too. Just keep praying until you are given the answer.

I’ve said this before, but the word pressed upon my heart for this year is stronger.

Truth be told, part of me is wishing I had been given a different word. The rest of me knows that God goes before me, preparing me to bear much fruit, as long as I remain in him.

               “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine dresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As a branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

John 15:1-5

A dear friend sent me a message as I finished writing this saying Joe and I came to mind while she was praying this morning along with Joshua 6. Let me tell you, it sure feels like we have a number of metaphorical Jericho’s in our life right now. I covet her prayers. We all need a lot more of that in our lives right now. That’s where the real work is done. Prayer changes things, starting in your own heart.

I’ll see you in the garden again soon. Until then, may you root yourself in uncompromising truth and unfailing love.