What an incredible gift from the Lord we were given at Shaker Village this past week. What a way to end our Heart of a Woman study at this beautiful location. I believe it was just the day before that my weather app called for a 90% chance of rain. Yet no rain came. To be able to get away from the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives and gather together with one heart and mind to prayerfully seek the Lord was such a blessing. I am overwhelmed by the goodness and lovingkindness of our God.
I also thank the Lord for the Harvest of Righteousness tree illustration that we were given. It is such a helpful and practical visual aide. I pray we would all heed the exhortation to use this tool of God’s transforming grace for our spiritual growth. The righteous fruit that the Lord is going to grow from the seeds of faith, hope, and love I know will be so beautiful.
I was so helped by being at Shaker Village and being reminded of how they had to clear the land before they could plant or settle there. As someone who continues to struggle with a stronghold of laziness and selfishness, it was so good for me to hear again about the hard working farmer. As well as the encouragement that farm work and gardening is in fact messy!
I love the encouragement from our Father in His Word that reminds me that I can’t grow myself. I sow the seeds, but the Lord is the One who brings the growth. We are not in control of the sun, wind, and rain. In 1 Cor. 3:6-7 Paul writes, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” This is also a needed reminder for me to stop comparing my growth to yours! We are all different by God’s design. All for His glory.
I was also so thankful for the continued and important exhortation to live by faith instead of feelings. I am reminded of our memory verses for this semester, Colossians 3:5-17, but in particular verse 14, “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” Genuine biblical love is not a feeling. Nor does it come naturally. It is supernatural. It is a fruit of the Spirit, not of the flesh. Therefore, we have to put it on. This is a battle that still rages in my heart. I still give into my feelings so many times. This week, I was reminded of how Jesus is my Shepherd and I am His sheep, and He calls me to follow Him. There are other shepherds out there who the enemy uses to deceive us. And not to make light of this, but I think one of them is named Feelings Fred. I found it helpful to personify my feelings as a living and deceitful shepherd and I hope you will too. It seems ridiculous to me as I write this, but that is a good thing. I need to see not only the ridiculousness of following Feelings Fred, but the danger as well. And I follow him even though I know full well it is utter foolishness and only leads to pain, suffering, darkness, and death.
But Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, the Messiah, Immanuel, is the One true Great Shepherd of the sheep. May He give us ears to hear His voice and recognize the deceitful voices around us. Jesus tells us plainly, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep” (John 10:10-11).
By God’s grace, let’s not grow weary in tending the gardens of our hearts. We must do the hard work of the farmer, trusting the Lord to bring the growth and harvest. We must believe by faith the words of our Lord, “I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star” (Rev. 22:16b).
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers” (Psa. 1:1-3).
He is faithful. He will bring a harvest of righteousness. To God be all the glory.
“But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you” (Rom. 11:17-18).
Learning to Live in the Garden of Grace