I have a little garden... It's not much, because I'm not much of a gardener. I like to watch things grow, but I'm not very good at making them grow. I guess I'm what you could call a "lazy gardener". I want to throw the seeds in the ground and watch as they spring to life, but there's more to producing fruit than that. You have to prep the soil, water regularly, fertilize and prune. You can't just ignore your garden and think it's going to produce.
My first attempt this year ended in me pulling all my dead plants out and starting again. Not enough water and no soil prep left me with a box full of tiny sprouts, that never matured, their growth was stunted.
After ripping everything out and throwing the useless plants in the compost, I prepped my soil and soaked it thoroughly, buried the new seeds and waited. The little seeds sprouted right on time and started growing beautifully. I was so excited about my little plants and I couldn't wait to taste their fresh from the garden fruit. Those little plants grew big pretty leaves, stretched out across the garden box and overflowed their borders, but didn't produce any fruit.
One day my brother was over and looking out across the yard, seeing all that green life overflowing the boxes he asked how my little garden was doing. I told him it was growing, but not producing, so he went to take a closer look. He told me I wasn't watering enough and giving more water would solve my problem.
Because I'm a lazy gardener I had just been using our sprinkler system to water my garden. My hose wouldn't reach across the yard where my boxes were, so I just turned on the nearest sprinklers, expecting that to be enough, but that wasn't working. The sprinkler sprayed mist in to the air and wet the leaves, but did nothing to actually water the plants. They were thirsty for a deep, root level soak.
I attached another hose to the one that wouldn't reach and started giving my little plants the soak they needed, setting the hose right down by the roots, so they could soak up all the life giving water. What do you know? Those little babies started giving me fruit. I was so surprised to find full sized cucumbers hidden beneath those green leaves.
Last night, sitting out back on my patio, looking at my garden, I pondered this truth. A sprinkle doesn't do much for the soul. A sprinkle may be enough to keep a soul alive, but it's a deep root level soak that makes a soul thrive.
The last few years I have been in a dry wasteland of loneliness. Surrounding by people, but alone none the less. I've been angry with God and blaming him for my loneliness. Feeling like I was invisible and unworthy of being seen, I lashed out at the only One, who could really see me. I denied him my love and affection. I refused the offer of His presence, because I wanted flesh and blood. I wanted a person to see me and know me, to understand and desire me. My deepest longing for companionship was an idol to me. Wanting people became the alter I laid my life on.
If my truest longing is intimacy (to be known and to know), then people are like my water sprinkler... they can offer me just enough to keep me alive. My Creator is the water flowing from my hose, close to the roots of the plant, giving us the ability to thrive and produce life.
The last few years the whisper of God to my soul has been... I see you, I know you, I love you, I want you. In the book of Hosea, the Word paints a picture of an adulterous bride seeking love in all the wrong places and a husband who leads her into the wilderness alone, so that he can woo her. He desires to show her His love is superior to all others. He disentangles her from every other distraction, until He has her complete and undivided attention and then He lavishes her with his extravagant love.
It's a beautiful story that I go back to repeatedly... Hosea 2:20 is the whole Bible wrapped up in one verse... "I will even betroth you to me in faithfulness and YOU WILL KNOW THE LORD."
You will KNOW the Lord is repeated throughout scripture. That word KNOW means intimacy. To know and be known. We were created for this purpose, to KNOW the Creator. He made us for Him. Col 1:16 "...were created by Him AND FOR HIM."
When God created Adam and Eve it was for a relationship. We see the evidence of that in Genesis when it says he came to walk with them in the cool of the day. When sin destroyed that possibility God set a plan in motion to restore that relationship, through His son Jesus Christ. The Father of Heaven is ever about restoring intimacy with His children. He will go to any length to do that.
Soaking in this truth down deep in my soul is doing something in my heart. Where there was longing and ache and need there is peace. Where there is brokenness and loneliness, His truth is healing. When I yearn to be known and loved and understood and desired, He speaks softly to my soul that My Creator sees me, knows me, loves me. He gets me. He knows who I am and He loves me.
When God was promising a savior He called him "Immanuel", which means God with us. Jesus came down to be with us. He came to show us who God is. He came to rid of us of this idea that we are puppets set to perform for this far away deity, who can't be known or understood.
God wanted to be known, just like I do. God wanted to be understood, just like I do. God wanted to restore what was lost and broken... our relationship with our Creator.
Last night, as I sat looking at my garden... I felt a little lonely. I wanted to reach out to a human, but I realized that really wasn't what my soul needed. That little need was really a symptom of being disconnected from my life line. So, I turned to him and poured my ache out on Him and He poured that life giving water down deep to my roots. As I soaked in His love, my ache receded.
"Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfort to her heart." Hosea 2:14
I'm not going to lie to you. I wish that I wouldn't have to experience this. I would prefer to be surrounded by people and I might be perfectly content to never truly know God, but He will not allow me to continue to try to satisfy myself that way.
Even though the road has been painful I'm learning to be thankful for the ache... It is the only thing that can draw me closer to the lover of my soul. It is my greatest gift.