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Posts Tagged ‘azaleas’

I have done my share of gardening over the years. Wherever we lived, I usually tried to make some sort of garden or use what was already there as best I could. But then we moved to our retirement village, where we have gardeners to look after all the trees and shrubs and flowers everywhere. And, apart from asking if I could plant some roses near our balcony, I was happy to leave all that trimming and digging and weeding to them!

IMG_20171008_170427567But then I met our wonderful neighbour and soon realised she was responsible for the beautiful flowers growing outside our front door and along the nearby pathways. I would see her working there for hours, as she sat on her little stool and weeded or broke up old leaves, then scattered them back in the earth. She would often spend her own money too, buying little, half-dead plants on special, then bringing them back to life, as well as more expensive ones. But the day came when our friend could no longer care for it all and she and her husband moved into our nearby nursing home.

In the following weeks, I watched as her beautiful garden deteriorated. Occasionally, I pulled out weeds or cut off dead flowers, but we knew that the gardeners, who had been happy to let our friend care for it and indeed to learn from her, would deal with it all in good time.

Eventually that day came and soon, many of our friend’s beautiful plants were no more–although some were left in certain spots to continue flowering where they were. And then something else sprouted in those gardens as well—two little signs that read ‘GardenIMG_20200220_092912991 Renovation in Progress’.

What a lovely concept, I thought to myself. My friend’s garden hasn’t disappeared altogether—it’s just being renovated! No doubt it will all look lovely again soon, with the remaining spaces filled with hardier, easy-care plants such as azaleas and nandina.

But as I gazed at those signs, another thought came to me too. Sometimes, I think my life can be a little like that garden outside our front door. Yes, when I first believed in Jesus Christ, I was given a completely new start in life (2 Corinthians 5:17). Yet despite that wonderful ‘renovation’, I can still easily mess things up. I can forget to listen to God—or perhaps deliberately choose not to. At times, my own selfish desires might kick in or I take my eyes off God and let the worries of this world overwhelm me. Then those weeds can begin to grow in my heart—and soon that internal ‘garden’ of mine needs a good overhaul yet again.

I’m so glad God doesn’t give up on us, but instead, graciously sets about renewing us, picking us up and setting us on our feet again. Truly, we are each a ‘renovation in progress’. But we are in the hands of the greatest master gardener ever who will continue to transform us to become more like Jesus. And that has to be the best reno ever, don’t you think?

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18

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Sometimes it seems to me God uses the most mundane experiences of life and the things right in front of our nose to speak to us. Our part is to have eyes to see and ears to hear—and a heart to follow and live in the light of what God shows us.

I noticed this on two recent occasions that seemed quite disconnected at first. One day while dusting our house, I noticed some large, plastic folders on a bookshelf and looked more closely to see what they were. I discovered some were training manuals from courses I had attended in the past, while others contained leadership material for courses I myself had helped run. They would all be outdated now for sure. Out they went—but not without some pangs of regret. It had all been so valuable at the time. And I know such input impacted people’s lives, including mine.

Then I moved on to examine some thicker plastic folders. Inside them, I found neatly packaged cassette tapes from various conferences I had attended in the early nineties. What wonderful conferences they were, where the Holy Spirit moved amongst us in an amazing way and where we learnt so much more about how to pray and listen to God’s voice! I found smaller packs of cassettes too from prayer courses I had attended and other recordings of well-known Christian leaders at the time. This material had been transformational for me and many others. Yet who would listen to cassettes now? I could have them made into a more modern format—but would it be worth it? I decided in the end it would not be. Apart from just a few I did not have the heart to throw out, into the bin they went.

At that point, I decided there was no point in sitting around thinking melancholy thoughts. There were more jobs to be done, including hanging out that washing! As I did, I noticed our old iris plants were in bloom, their white floppy heads bobbing in the breeze, and there were new white blossoms on the azaleas and may bush. A few jonquils and baby daffodils had appeared, while various ground cover plants were also flourishing. In the midst of it all, the grevillea stood proud, with its lovely apricot and orange blooms, while my Christmas bush seemed to have shot up a P1040104few more centimetres overnight. Spring had certainly arrived. A new season was upon us. I went on to the front garden—and there before me was a small shrub I was sure had died over winter, now covered in pretty pink, daisy-like flowers.

Then God seemed to say to me, ‘You know those dusty, old cassettes, Jo? Yes, they were wonderful in their time and rich in my truths. But this is a new season for you when I have equally rich things to show you and to do through you. Keep moving on with me. Keep growing. Keep giving out.’

May you too listen and hear and perceive the things God has for you in this season of your life.

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? Isaiah 43:18-19

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