Called by Name

This inchworm is measuring a flower in units of its own length – thus the common name – inchworm. Its scientific name – geometridae – also alludes to its measuring ability. I now know this name and the origin of the name because I have been participating in the 2021 Mountain True BioBlast. It is a friendly competition between our county and two nearby counties with similar bio diversity to determine how many different species of plants and animals can be recorded within a two week period.

I have enjoyed this so much! Most of my pictures have been taken in our own yard. We are blessed with such diversity here on Macktown Gap. I don’t know all the names – but the app we use on our phones – called iNaturalist – identifies the plant or animal BY NAME! It records the location as well. Not only have I had fun looking for as many different plants and critters as I could find, I have learned their names in the process.

This butterfly, named Great Spangled Fritillary landed on a flower called Butterfly Weed. Such an appropriate name.

Names are important. They not only give significance to something but often describe it as well. Instead of “look at those plants”, saying “look at that Jack-in-the-Pulpit” identifies and singles out one plant from among many others.

God gave Adam the task of naming all the animals and birds in the Garden of Eden – Genesis 2:19. The names of things has been important since the very beginning of creation.

As a teacher I worked very hard to learn the names of my students. I was not always good at remembering – but I really did try. It was important to me that each student knew they were unique and important to me. Knowing their name was a way for me to acknowledge them. (Kristen and Chelsea Cucumber are identical twins and they had to constantly forgive me for mixing up their names – as did twins Kristen and Kelsey Bradley) Now I have identical twin grandsons. Poor Amos and Tyler…..

But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you.
    O Israel, the one who formed you says,
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
    I have called you by name; you are mine.  Isaiah 43:1

I love that God tells us, His people, that He has called us BY NAME. He knows us, He formed us.

We are His.

It All Began in the Garden

And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. Genesis 2: 8-9, 15 ESV

So, it all began in a garden. God placed man there and gave him a job – “work it and keep it.” Now this is before the fall, before sin entered the garden. I think it is of utmost significance that God placed his highest form of creation – human beings – in a garden and also gave them work – a purpose.

Purpose – such a powerful word. A definition of purpose is “the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.” Having a purpose gives meaning to our existence. God created us with this need for a purpose – and he had work for humans to do right from the beginning.

I realize not everyone gets the fulfillment I get from working in my garden. It renews and feeds my soul in so many ways. But I do know that a part of our being as humans is restored and renewed when we are outside in nature. An English professor, Dr. Mae Claxton, told me recently about some of her university students engaging in a service project that involved working in the Community Garden. She mentioned that some were not too excited about gardening, but afterwards expressed surprise with how “relaxing” and “renewing” it had been for them to get in the dirt and weed. They made a connection with nature working in the garden that they hadn’t made before.

Could it just be that the experience of tending a garden takes us back to that plan God had for us in the beginning?

Maybe, but regardless, I sense that I am tending God’s creation when I weed, trim, mulch and water. Each plant that grows and blooms is the fruit of that labor. It also brings joy to share flowers and plants with others. The variety of color, texture, form, shape, and smell blesses me. How wonderful that our Father, Creator of the Universe, gave us work that results in such beauty. My husband, Phil, could write about vegetable gardening in much the same way with the end result of food that tastes delicious. That food nourishes our physical bodies and allows us to share with others.

It all began in a garden and the blessing of communing with God continues in gardens all over the earth.

Steadfast Love

Each year, right around Mother’s Day, these rhododendron bushes along our driveway bloom in all their glory. This picture does not do justice to the magnificence of these flowers. Their size and abundance amaze me every year.

I can take no credit for them. The late Charles Mason gifted one of these rhododendron bushes to his lovely wife Peggy Queen Mason each year for Mother’s Day. They remain a living legacy of their family.

When we purchased our home in 2005 it was November. I thought it was nice that the driveway had these mature bushes along it and I was pleased that they were evergreen.

Then, the following spring, the week of Mother’s Day, they burst forth in glorious purple. How pleased we were! And they faithfully bloom each year. Unlike my hydrangeas, which got frozen in March, these mature plants withstand the uncertainties of weather and steadfastly bloom each year.

This is a lovely reminder of the faithful love of God for his children.

  • it will show up in surprising ways
  • it is steadfast, reliable
  • it is not dependent on circumstances
  • it is unconditional

The comparison is not perfect. A large white pine tree fell on one bush last year and took it out. Fortunately, a new shoot is growing from the roots. These bushes won’t live forever – God’s love will – it is eternal, steadfast.

Lamentations 3:22-24 says

22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
    His mercies never cease.
23 Great is his faithfulness;
    his mercies begin afresh each morning.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
    therefore, I will hope in him!”

In My Garden with God