Blood, Sweat, and Shears
Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will but yours, be done.
I definitely have a love/hate relationship with gardening. Yesterday, after surveying the damage created by another harsh Ohio winter, it became apparent that I needed a plan. Where does one begin after months of snow, wind, and sleet have battered trees, flower beds, and buildings? Because my yard was not going to be fixed in a few hours, or even a few days, I began to feel overwhelmed and maybe even a bit frustrated at the mess. Would I ever again be able to take in the sweet fragrance of peonies or watch the brilliant crimson dinner plate hibiscus unfurl? Like I said, it is a love/hate relationship.
After wandering around the yard and pacing in and out of the shed, I mentally broke my yard into four sections. This would allow me to work one section at a time, making the job feel a little less daunting. With the help of my ever-present pug, Archie, I began by clearing mucky leaves and brittle sticks from my haggard flower beds and yard. At the end of the day, I had a few cuts and a sore back, but was satisfied and hopeful. I recognized the emerald leaves of tulips standing a little taller in the flower bed and watched chubby robins sort through the freshly exposed dirt.
I wonder what discussions took place in Heaven as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit surveyed the mess in the Garden of Eden after Adam and Eve sinned. What was whispered in heaven as the angels watched? Did they feel sad, scared, or mad as they wondered what could be done to fix creation? Were they shocked when the Trinity shared their outrageous plan of Jesus coming to earth as a man? Obviously we do not know what was said, but we know from reading Scripture how important it was to God to redeem His creation. We can also observe Jesus’s determination to bring restoration through the accounts of His life on earth, and in His passion as He labored in prayer in the garden of Gethsemane. Jesus went away to pray often, and in this particular account, written in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, we can see His intensity:
"Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done." And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. (Luke 22:42-44)
We can sense Jesus’s agony as He contemplated the suffering to come, and also as He became determined to submit Himself to the shocking restoration plan. The Apostle Paul highlights Jesus’s work when he speaks of his own struggle with broken flesh, "Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?" (Romans 7:24), then answers himself, "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (vs. 25).
In Romans 8:1 we see the efficacy of Jesus’ suffering: "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Talk about exciting! Those who choose to accept God’s free gift of salvation not only have a way to be relieved of the consequences of sin, but also have a future hope of eternity with Jesus. Healing will come to people and to creation. Death and the devil will be dealt with forever. For those who appreciate a well-tended garden, we can only imagine the beauty as we read Revelation 22:1-3:
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him.
In the short term I will rake leaves, pick up sticks, and pull weeds so I can prepare to plant and water. I know my garden has a future if I keep at it. Even better, I know a loving God who is making all things new and that those who love Him will enjoy being with Him in His garden that will never be destroyed.