Preparing for His Appearing

when they appear in spring …

This time of year I am preparing the places in our native plants area for the spring.

To prepare these places, I remove any debris that has fallen from trees and heavy leaf matter. I clean up all around, and then put a light, protective layer of leaves covering the soil where the trillium, trout lily, mayapple, bloodroot, lady slipper, and Solomon’s seal will appear come spring. As those leaves rot, they feed the soil which benefits the plant growth.

Doing this preparation work will allow these wildflowers to flourish, and it also allows the new growth to appear without the old dead stems and leaves diminishing the beauty of the new growth. Heavy leaf matter and large pieces of tree branches could prevent the new, tender shoots from pushing through when it warms up. This work does not show immediate effect like weeding and pruning do, yet over time its results show the value of the work.

Technically, it isn’t even winter yet, December 21 is that day, but it sure feels like winter. It was 21 degrees this morning and the frost on our deck table was white and thick. In years past, I waited too long before preparing for the emergence of our wildflowers. The flowers came up and when I began to clean up the leaf matter and sticks so the plants had room, I inadvertently damaged the young, tender shoots. There is no set date for trout lilies or bloodroot to emerge. They are usually the first wildflower to pop up along the edge of our yard and are the sign that the mayapples, trillium, and lady slippers will soon follow. Their appearance is determined by the weather, when it gets warm enough, the plants emerge – then bloom.

So, to allow the native plants their full growth potential, I must do the preparation work long before there is any sign of the future blooms.

Our Community Women’s Bible Study is studying the book of Revelation. I have been reminded that in Revelation John urges us as followers of Jesus to “be prepared” for His second appearing. This week, like many of us, I have been preparing our home for the arrival of Christmas. I have put up a tree, strung some lights outside, and gotten my mother’s Christmas china out. All these preparations celebrate Jesus’ first appearance on earth.

What have I done to prepare for His second coming?

Revelation 16:15 in the Amplified Version says –

15 “Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is he who stays awake and who keeps his clothes [that is, stays spiritually ready for the Lord’s return], so that he will not be naked—spiritually unprepared—and men will not see his shame.”

So, I don’t need to decorate my house or clean away leaf debris to prepare for Jesus second coming. As my friend Patti Harper said when we were reading this verse – “We need to be awake – aware – and attired.

Awake – realize that Jesus is coming AGAIN

Aware – that no matter what is happening around me – God is faithful

Attired – clothed in His righteousness, Jesus paid the price for my salvation

During these days of cold weather and darkness all around us, may we share the light of Jesus. His Light shines brightest in darkness. May our “hearts prepare Him room” as the beautiful carol “Joy to the World” reminds us.

Then we will be prepared for Jesus appearing.

Who Will See?

This year of 2020 has been a year of challenges. No matter where we live, or who we are, COVID 19 has affected our lives in some way, big or small. Some of these effects will end, hopefully soon. Some will continue because we have been challenged to see our lives and priorities in a new way.

As most of you know, because it is the theme of many of my posts, my “hobby” is gardening. I love working outdoors in our yard which is surrounded by woods. Being outside renews my soul and puts me in the mind-set of communing with my Heavenly Father.

Actually, it all started in a garden, didn’t it? Creation, relationship with our Creator, human’s fall into sin….. all began in a garden. I feel God’s presence most personally in our garden.

Phil and I work hard on tending our plants and keeping the weeds at bay. Because of COVID 19, we have been home much more this year. Meetings in our community, trips overseas, visits out of state, gatherings with friends – all have been cancelled. So, I found myself devoting more time to tending our garden than I ever have before.

The results of that work shows.

But who sees it?

The entrance to our home looks so lovely and inviting – but no one comes to visit.

I cut these flowers and arranged them, but no one was invited to share our table.

So, what is the meaning of all the work if no one sees the end result?

I “drag” Phil around the yard to see a new bloom. I obviously take pictures, but all you gardeners know that a picture does not touch the vibrancy of the color in real life, nor can a photo transmit the smell that emanates from the bloom. Pictures are a nice but incomplete image of the real thing.

So these thoughts caused me to contemplate my motivation for my gardening efforts. Do I do this work so it will be seen by others? Am I just acting on compulsion – driven by some unknown need to pull weeds? (some of my children think that is indeed the case)

Jesus teaches about our motivation for praying in Matthew 6: 5,6

“When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

Now gardening is not prayer, but I do view my gardening efforts as an act of worship, of tending God’s creation. These verses encourage me to continue tending, weeding, trimming, pruning, and nurturing. The point is not if anyone else sees it, the point is in the doing. God sees.

It does bring me joy to see plants flourish. There are probably many activities that we are currently doing that are not noticed, especially during these times of staying home and staying safe.

So, continue doing what pleases the Father, whether it is noticed or not.

#26 In My Garden with God

Full Disclosure: We have had family come, and some friends who have driven through the driveway. They have fed my extroverted soul as well.

My Father’s Handiwork

     2006

My sister-in-law, Mitzi, recently sent me this picture of my father collecting tiny Japanese maples under the beautiful “mother” tree in her yard in Eugene, Oregon. Dad brought these two inch high seedlings home to North Carolina on the airplane and planted them in a sheltered place.

Now, fourteen years later we have several beautiful trees and so do our daughters! One even traveled north to Wheaton when Mom and Dad moved there to a retirement community. These Japanese maples are especially beautiful in the fall.

All from little seedlings.

The greatest blessing to me is the remembrance of my father whenever I see these trees.

I realized after Mitzi sent me this picture that I have reminders of my father ALL OVER OUR YARD! His handiwork is a constant reminder that my Dad lived here with us for over 8 years, and not only did he live here, but he left a legacy of beauty.

Which leads me to the next realization  – my Heavenly Father has left His legacy – all creation – as a constant reminder of His presence.

Just as I look at a tree or flower that Dad planted and am reminded of him, I recognize that God, in His creative power has made all things, including humans. When I see people, I am reminded that God created humans in His image.

“Red, brown, yellow, black and white, we’re ALL precious in His sight.”

Caring for our garden and the plants Dad left here honors his memory.

Caring for other people honors God who created them.

If I am not showing love and respect for ALL people, I am not honoring the God who created them. In this time of turmoil and unrest in our country, I must do all I can to honor God by showing honor to His creation – the entire human race.

In Mark 12:30-31 Jesus answers a question from one of the religious leaders – “Which is the most important commandment?”

30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

When I love my neighbor as myself. I am honoring my Heavenly Father by caring for His creation.

My challenge right now is to show love to all people, not only those I agree with. Because each person is God’s handiwork and He loves them, so will I.

2020

 

In My Garden with God #26