I considered doing some yard work this weekend.
Notice that I said considered. That would be because ultimately, I didn’t set foot in my yard or, more specifically, my flower beds.
You see, I’m a little more than disgusted with it all.
I worked hard in the spring amidst work and classes to find the perfect assortment of flowers, remove the old mulch, plant the flowers, and then re-mulch all the flower beds. When I was finished, it was beautiful. I felt great hope for a gorgeous landscape.
Last year, I had one.
I planted periwinkles – and oh, how they thrived!
And all I did was plant them and turn the sprinkler system on. I may have pulled a weed or two from the beds over the summer, but really, I didn’t have to mess with it. Beauty just happened.
Then, this spring I got selfish.
I wanted gorgeous flowers, but after having spent quite a pretty penny the spring before on the periwinkles, I was determined that I would not do that every spring.
So I decided I’d go to the nursery and buy an assortment of perennials, filling my flower beds with their prettiness and yet returning again next year. Off I went, loading my flat cart with a myriad of adorable selections and, again, paying a pretty penny.
I was so excited about my new flowers and sure they’d be delightful. I babied them into their new homes in my yard. Fully planted, I watered them and watched over them with delight as they began to flourish.
Then summer hit.
And if you’re not from around here, let me just say that summers here are notoriously hot. But not this hot. Certainly not this dry. I cannot remember the last time we have had a really good rainstorm.
My flower beds have suffered intensely. The flowers have wilted, despite my best intention and attempts to water them enough (plans thwarted, of course, by stage 2 drought restrictions). The weeds have poked their nasty little heads up, slowly trying to choke out the flowers around them.
I can’t keep up with it. I’m tired. I’m hot. I’m frustrated. And, I give up.
Do you wonder if God ever feels that way?
I do. I mean, think about it: He adores us. He invests in us. (Could anyone invest more, as a matter of fact? He invested His Son.) He takes such great care in surrounding us with situations that will cause us to thrive. Then He stands back and beams with pride. After all, we are His beloved.
And we stand taller because of it. I do – and I’d bet you do, too. I mean, it’s only natural to sit up a little straighter and stronger when you get a pat on the back…especially from the Creator of the Universe.
How quickly we forget that we are His handiwork, His creation.
As such, any glory for our beauty belongs solely in His mighty Hands. No, we are not worthless, helpless creatures – we are filled with hope, purpose, and worth because God has declared us so. And yet, we still stand, boastful and oblivious to the very reason we flourish.
Then we get selfish.
We look around and decide that we want change. We want something better. We want to go a new way. So we put in some legwork and set that change in motion. We sweat, we work hard, we lament the obstacles in the path.
We might make some progress, yes. But it doesn’t last and sooner or later, we look around and where we once thrived, we now struggle to catch our breath. Where there was once beauty is now overrun with weeds.
We cry out to God, “Why did you let this happen? I thought you loved me!”
It’s this moment that must crush our Father’s heart.
We chose our path – we chose to leave the safety of living in His purpose, in His plan for us. He did not guide us in the path that we traveled down, and yet we shake our fists and blame Him for it nonetheless.
I’ve been there.
You probably have been, too. My life has looked so much like my flower beds – dry, wilted, choked out by weeds. Devoid of life and seemingly a hopeless cause.
And that’s exactly why I wonder if God wants to give up on us.
Does He want to say, “I told you so” and turn away? Does He shake His head and walk away, deciding that we weren’t worth the effort He put in the first time, so we most certainly aren’t worth that kind of effort a second time (or a third or fourth)?
I’m not sure I’d blame Him if He did. I mean, it has to be frustrating. We know better. We have felt the Light on our faces and the Strength coursing through our veins.
We chose another way. Then we looked around at the consequences and blamed God for them.
But oh, friend, our God is not like us.
And isn’t that a wonderful thing?! He refuses to give up on us. In fact, He won’t even shame us.
Instead, the very moment we make the slightest move to turn back to Him, He’s already running toward us, scooping us up in His loving arms and beginning the celebration.
Notice I didn’t say that He spends a little time cleaning us up and dusting us up first.
No. He holds us close first – and then He shouts for the celebration to begin, for His child has come home.
Oh, He might wipe off our grimy faces or give us a quick surface wash. Yet that is for us – to make us feel more comfortable. It’s not for Him. The real, down-deep clean up can happen later. Goodness knows it will happen, for we’ve made a mess of the beautiful garden of our lives. But it will happen after He celebrates our return and loves on us for awhile. And when it does happen, it will happen with grace, tenderness, and love.
That doesn’t mean there won’t be consequences, nor that clean up is always easy or picture perfect. But what it does mean is that our Loving Father is there with us in every moment, pulling the weeds and then caressing the raw earth left in their wake until flourishes yet again.
God simply doesn’t believe in such a thing as a lost cause.
Who’d ever think that God could use a bunch of weeds and wilted flowers to remind me so powerfully of His extravagant Love? Maybe my flower beds are not so hopeless after all. They just need a little extra love and nurturing.
What about you? Who’ve you appointed as Master Gardener in your own life these days? Are you feeling lost and hopeless? If you are, I pray you will turn your face back toward our Father who loves you so.
Just don’t be surprised if you find yourself scooped up in His arms as He cries out:
“Quick! Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him….We’re going to feast! We’re going to have a wonderful time! My son is here – given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!” (Luke 15:22-24 MSG)