Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Gifts from the Garden

So far this summer I have received tomatoes, cucumbers and blueberries from friends’ gardens and I am grateful for the delicious produce they have provided. But when I think of gardens, I often picture the kind covered in roses, hydrangeas and azaleas like the Mobile Botanical Gardens.  After Mom died, I went there several times and God used the tranquil setting to provide great comfort. 

So I guess in the wake of losing Dad, I shouldn’t have been surprised when gardens popped up as a theme in novels I was reading recently.While I haven’t had the opportunity to visit a garden yet this summer, I have enjoyed the abundant purple, pink, and fuchsia crepe myrtles and the vibrant blue hydrangeas which brighten the streets I travel daily. Last week, I even took an armchair trip via DVD to several gardens in England.

All of this has brought to mind the gardens in the Bible—Eden where the story of mankind starts and the idyllic New Jerusalem with its orchard and river where the story ends. Right in the middle of the story though is the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus poured out His sorrow-filled heart to the Father.  Somehow it comforts me to know that when the Savior needed solace, He too sought out a garden. It was there in a garden Jesus submitted to God’s plan and willingly chose to die for my sins. While God can provide generous treasures in a variety of gardens, there can be no greater gift to come from a garden than Jesus’ sacrifice.

“I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses.

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.”

--C. Austin Miles

Thursday, July 4, 2013

One Fourth = 4 F's

When I was three, my Dad made me a baton so I could stand in front of the tv and conduct the Boston Pops orchestra during their Fourth of July concert. That was how our family always spent the holiday. We didn’t host a backyard BBQ or take a trip to the beach. On occasion, we traveled somewhere in the city to watch live fireworks, but usually we stayed inside with the AC and watched our favorite music and fireworks display from the comfort of the couch. Then when I became a teenager, my best  friend and I cooked for my family—BBQ chicken (in the oven), potatoes and green beans with a “flag cake” as dessert. 

I’ve always love this holiday because like most every American, it represents for me the privilege of living in a free country where I can vote and where I can speak my mind without fear of jailtime. Even more so, though, the Fourth represents the faith which is my inheritance and which, thanks to being born in the USA, I can practice freely. Each Sunday I go to church without fear of government or economic retribution for openly worshipping God. It is a privilege and a freedom many believers do not share.  But despite the chains the world uses to shackle Christians, Christ has given us all true freedom.

He provides freedom from sin, from worry, from fear, and from the eternal consequences of sin. While America is “the land of the free,” the Lord is the Lord of freedom.  So this Fourth I am celebrating the four f’s of my faith, family, friends, and all the freedom the Lord has given me, including the freedom to serve Him. 

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36