Are you like me? When spring rolls around, and the cleaning of all that winter muck in the garden is done, do you make immediate haste to the garden center? Is there a spring in your step as you bound out of the car and buzz a beeline to the swath of greens and creams, yellows and corals, purples and fuchsias that wave their greeting to you? “Over here!” they
call out in cheerful, perky harmony. “Pick me!” “I’ll do you proud!” “Smell me!” “I’m perfect for that spot beside the balcony!” Coming! Do you wander through the garden center, with eyes wide and excitement building like a little kid who sees and smells that tantalizing dessert buffet laid out in ceremonious and dignified splendor before hankering eyes? And do you keep on buzzing right through each season to fill your outside and inside with the cheerfulness and hope of plant life?
My garden has changed over the years. In my early beginnings, I would cram my fledgling beds with nothing but wonderfully colorful annuals. Mixed Impatiens and Vinca. Zinnia and Pansies. Marigold and Snap-dragons. Verbena and Geraniums. A glorious mix of heights, colorings, appearances and scents. Ongoing enthusiasm infected me. As time progressed, I decided to cut new beds, and transform our whole garden with gorgeously spreading multi-season perennials, leaving room for a few annuals to fill in any bare spots.
Have you ever ignored your present garden’s plantings and leapt ahead to buy more than you have space for? I have. Many times. I seem to keep stocking my trolley for some imaginary country estate, not the modest city garden I have. I have one eye on that first memory of summertime lushness, another to the future on reproducing it in harmony with a hardy mix of perennials. Yet all this visioning occurs without taking into consideration that I have beauty in the present that needs tending, with perhaps only a little room for more. My eyes are bigger than my garden. My glance too quickly jumps to what could be. My eagerness crowds out what is already planted. I allow my lust for lush to guide my eyes, and in that rush I thrill and run ahead of myself.
Correction. I run way ahead of myself. My excitement becomes the excuse for crowding out with willful blindness the perennials that have well taken root and are growing in stunning beauty and with healthy ease. Whoa, girl!
Oh, how I often run ahead of the Gardener too! I fill my future with visions that are ahead of their time. Premature visions based on past “trend” that will be very likely tweaked and pruned at regular intervals to fit the more glorious, the more exquisite Gardener’s landscaping. Too often I have forgotten to savor what I have, and where I am in the present. The now. All too often. One way or the other, just as I am compelled to stop as I try to figure out where these new plants go, sooner or later, I will be stopped in my tracks by the Gardener. Sometimes I have the wherewithal to recognize where I’m headed, and with his help, I reign myself in. And then, he and I recall together when words of kind discipline and grace-filled vision were showered upon me, and the vines of innocent enthusiasm and truth untangled…..
The pathway was as bright as a cloudless summer’s day in this vision, and the Company was just as radiant and warm. It was sublime. The air was soft and gentle as he and I walked together. He was calmly listening, a smile across his face. I was as a child with their dearly cherished parent, eagerly and enthusiastically jibbering and jabbering on and on about hopes and wishes, dreams and visions. As we walk side by side, I could feel my attention being drawn away from his warmth beside me to the many wonderful things themselves. My eagerness and enthusiasm enwraps and propels me further ahead, unbeknownst to me leaving him further behind with each step. Hopes and wishes of what I’d like to be and have, and what I’d wish and hope those I love to have and be. With head now down, I count out these dreams and share visions of what I’d like to accomplish and live out, and an action plan on how to much better inwardly attune myself and truly partner with him. I seemed to be concentrating on the path, attention divided between its surface, and the rapid-fire of thoughts swirling around in my head. Something within me seemed to snap me to attention as I noticed it was a little cooler than when I first began my prattling on. The day and path seems to have gotten darker, and quickly too, I think to myself. I suddenly realize that the light that had surrounded us in the beginning has faded. In fact, there is no us. I am walking alone headlong and headstrong into near-full darkness.
The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runs to it and is safe and set on high [far above evil].
(Proverbs 18:10, Amplified Bible)
I turn around in a bit of a panic, and there he is surrounded by that familiar light, waiting for me. So involved I was with my own ideas and wishes and dreams that I had run ahead. Well ahead. Without him. Into a future that was deliberately shrouded from me. O Jesus! What am I doing?! I say to him. I run back to him, and he smiles warmly. He puts his arm around me and draws me in, as he seems to say …
Erin, how I delight in your sharing with me your hopes and dreams! How you tickle me with your infectious and unbridled enthusiasm! But child, do not run ahead of me, for you don’t know the dangers on the road ahead, nor the destination. Stay close. Take hold of my hand. Keep your eyes on me. Share your enthusiasm face to face with me! Rather than looking to the glittering hum of the little of what could be, dividing your attention between path and perhaps, keep your eyes on me for I know the glory of what will be. Stay and remain by my side as my light illumines the present. Erin, I allow you to see only a little ahead of you, for too much would overwhelm you, stress you and distract you from what I call you to do in this present moment: present light-filled moments that pave the way toward that place that is now shrouded, just as this moment was so shrouded in the past from you. Stay close beside me where you will find light, warmth, safety, refreshment, encouragement and strength to handle each step along the pathway. I will provide everything you need, for you are so very dear to me. You are my beloved! Walk with me, as I bless you with my storehouses of abundance and raise you toward your future.
There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.
(Proverbs 23: 18, New International Version)
Rather than run ahead, I need to run to him to linger and listen. Rather than plan in seclusion, I need to power with the One who knows every bend and stretch on the road ahead. Rather than assuming I need to fill in bare spots, I need to leave room for the Gardener’s much more. Rather than suffocate what has been planted, I need to allow it to spread and swell in the Gardener’s care. Rather than looking to the tempting flashes and sights of what could be, I need to turn my face to what is, and the bright light of his all-consuming love, safety, assurance and care. I need to live in the now, not choke out a glorious future, the steps to which I do not yet really know.
Jesus, help me to live alongside you and savor the lushness of each moment of beauty of today, your gift to me. Help me to keep in step with you, and not run ahead. Help me to lay all my todays and tomorrows in the safety and security of your presence.
“So never worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
(Matthew 6:34, International Standard Version)
I will chase after Your commandments because You will expand my understanding.
(Psalm 119: 32, The Voice)
Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughingstock to their enemies.
(Exodus 32: 25, New International Version)
Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.
(2 John 1: 9, New International Version)
Soil and Seed