I sat on the balcony of our hotel room, sipping coffee and watching the gardener tend to the plants in the atrium below. In what must’ve been a morning ritual, the woman hooked a particular nozzle on to her garden hose and gave the waiting plants their morning shower. It’s strange, but I could almost feel their delight. I was reminded of feeding time at a zoo and the many times I’ve seen the lions and tigers (and bears? Oh my…) pace behind the bars of their cages in anticipation of an upcoming meal. Plants are not so mobile, but I wondered if they feel an equally intense yet less visible excitement as their caretaker approaches and hooks up her hose to the water spout! Surely their early morning watering is the high point of their day and perhaps the very reason that the conservatory which stretched below me was filled with healthy, thriving plants.
Perhaps our spiritual gardens would be as verdant if we Christians found the same delight in our morning meeting time with our Creator! Washed free of yesterday’s grime, our thirst slaked, our hunger satisfied… our only concern would then be to grow and radiate the joy of living in such a lovely spiritual place.
Returning to the balcony an hour later with a second cup of brew, I saw that the gardener was likewise back, this time clipping off the dead leaves she found and throwing them in the trash. I was surprised that she was able to find any leaves to clip - they surely weren’t visible to me in the overwhelming mass of green foliage below. But she seemed to know where to look for them, reaching deep in one pocket of greenery after another to pull out brown and curling leaves that were as yet invisible to the casual observer, removing them before their condition became more obvious and spoiled the overall look of the plant.
How awesome that God does exactly that with us. He knows the exact location of every dead and dying aspect of our existence, be it a bad attitude in one corner of our heart, an unforgiven wrong lying just beneath the surface of the face we present to the world, or a hurt of some kind that’s buried in the depths of our soul. God reaches deep and plucks that rotten part of our personality out before it becomes visible and mars the witness we present to a watching world… if He gets the chance.
You see, sometimes I don’t show up for my morning grooming. Unlike the plants I saw below me, I am able to move at will… and I frequently will myself to move in too many directions at once rather than sit for a bit and wait on God’s will.
It happened to me this morning. Away for a week on a vacation with my sister, we had a full day of activities planned. I was the first awake and felt a yearning in my soul to find a morning meeting place with God. But not wanting to disturb my sis with my pre-dawn wanderings, I succumbed to my laziness and the lure of the comfy blankets and pillows, and stayed in bed instead. There wasn’t another chance to get away with God before the day was well underway. I didn’t think about it again till many hours later when we were struggling to find our way on unfamiliar freeways in a driving rainstorm. Tension was as thick as the moisture-laden clouds above us, and I snapped an impatient response to my sister’s attempts at navigation. I quickly apologized, but later wondered if my momentary grouchiness was just the result of the stress of the moment… or perhaps was a “dead leaf” in my spiritual garden that God would’ve snipped if I’d given Him a chance to tend to my life this morning as I knew He desired.
And so I entered the New Year with new resolve. When for whatever reason I’m tempted to skip out on a morning grooming session I’ll remember the gorgeous view from that balcony and remind myself of how the healthy condition of each individual plant contributed to the beauty of the whole. Likewise I want to be a positive part of the Kingdom of God, not a weak and wilted specimen that’s destined for the compost pile because I gave in too often to the desire to dally in bed awhile.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
(Psalm 139:23-24 KJV)
(Psalm 139:23-24 KJV)