"[You] will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His spendor." Isaiah 61:3b
Okay, I must confess right away that I'm sharing with you an article that I wrote a couple of years back. I also have to "come clean" that the beautiful flowers that brought the article to mind were planted by my wonderful new son-in-law, Brandon and our daughter, his bride, Rachel. My back yard is bursting with color...a mandevilla that's beauty is just beyond description, some brilliant fuschia gerbera daisies, pink begonias, a gardenia that sprouted it's first fragrant bloom today, and a lovely butterfly bush. With another wedding on the horizon, I didn't choose any rosebushes. I love them, but don't have time this summer for all of the pampering they need. Okay, true confessions aside, I hope you enjoy and are encouraged!
I have a new hobby! It is flower gardening. Now you should be laughing hysterically, because I‘m not really the outdoorsy type. I don‘t like getting my hands dirty. I’m not particularly fond of getting on my knees for anything (except prayer.) A shovel, fertilizer (especially cow manure), and bug spray have definitely never been items of interest to me…especially if I had to APPLY them. But God used the blessing of a precious friend who loves gardening to move me out of my comfort zone and into a place where I can be blessed by Him in a whole new way.
I’ve planted Gerbera Daisies, Hollyhocks (okay, John planted those, but it was my idea), and two rose bushes. The rose bushes were my first. I dug the holes. I followed my grandmother and granddaddy’s instructions step by step, including some gravel in the bottom of the hole, mixing the red clay with potting soil, and yes, mixing in some cow manure. What satisfaction I found in seeing that work completed! And I continue to be filled with joy daily as I water them and feed them, tend to them, prune off dead leaves, spray for bugs, and oh, how wonderful it is to be able to clip off a rose to put in a bud vase in my home or to share with someone!
I cut off a beautiful coral colored rose yesterday and put it in a bud vase. I placed it on the counter between our kitchen and den. I admired it all day! Last night, as Melea had her snack up on that bar, she was looking closely at the rose. She said, “Mommy, that rose has bugs on it!” Sure enough, it had some tiny green aphids on it. I knew that spraying the bushes to prevent bugs was on tap for today. After calling my daddy for advice on timing, I took care of that.
As I walked today, I pondered that whole scenario. I thought about how we, as women, all want to be beautiful just like that rose. And I believe that we can be, if we allow the Master Gardener to do His work in the gardens of our lives. He is the one who “dug the hole” as He fashioned our hearts to receive Him. He is the creator of the perfect formula for growing us into the women He desires for us to be. My grandmother says that the gravel that I put in the ground provides a good foundation for the roots to rest, and gives a means of drainage so that the roots aren’t drowned in soggy mud. Psalm 40:2 says, “He lifted me out of the…mud and…He set my feet on a rock.” And what a foundation that rock is, because “The Lord (Himself) is my rock…my deliverer…my rock, in whom I take refuge” (Psalm 18:2). Everything in our lives is filtered through His almighty hands. It is also essential that we are “planted” in good soil, which as Jesus referred to in Matthew 13:23 as “the man (or woman) who hears the Word and understands it.” The Word is life, and the Holy Spirit gives us understanding when we ask! Now to the cow manure! May I assume that we all have a little of that in our lives? 2 Corinthians 4:16-17 reminds us, “…do not lose heart…. For our…momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” Allow that trouble, those circumstances to draw you to the One at work within you.
Now that the planting is complete, consent to let God do the “watering,” to fill you up till you are overflowing with Him. Concede as He prunes away that which is fruitless. And to receive the “bug spray,” put on the “full armor of God!” I encourage you to go to Ephesians 6:10-18 for that application! And as a result, “[you] will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor” (Isaiah 61:3b).
All too often we are caught up in the world’s definition of beauty. We allow magazines, movies, and TV to shape our concepts of what is beautiful. Too many times we look in the mirror and are not pleased with what we see because we have set unattainable, unrealistic standards. If we allow God’s beautification, through us, He will radiate a beauty that far exceeds the standards of the world!
Are you longing for beauty? True beauty? Allow the Master Gardener to do His work in and through you, and as promised in Zechariah 9:17 “How attractive and beautiful (you) will be!”
*All scripture references are NIV.