Wednesday, January 19, 2011

My Garden

I seated my patient as comfortably as possible in the hard, leather chair. She was elderly and long past nervousness in a dental office. I adjusted her head rest, gave her a pillow to snuggle into her middle and sat down to make small talk with her as we waited for the dentist to come in and begin the scheduled extraction.

We chatted and our conversation soon settled on her hobby of gardening. She told me of the many specimens of flowers she grew. "I love gardening", I told her, "I'm just not very good at it. I can't get flowers to grow."

She gazed at me for a minute and then in a non-accusing, matter of fact manner, she simply said,

"Well then, you don't really love gardening."

And our conversation was interrupted by the arrival of the doctor and we carried on with her scheduled dental work.

But her words stayed with me All these many years later her words have stayed with me. And I have to admit she was right. I love the idea of gardening. I love the results of gardening. I love the look of a beautiful garden. But the truth is

I don't love it enough to spend the hours of work and dedication it requires to have a stunningly beautiful garden.

That simple admonition has served me well over the years. Every time I consider a new hobby or adding a new routine to my life I ask myself how much I really think I am going to love it. Am I really ready to invest the time, the money, the dedication it will require. Most often the answer is no, not really.

Recently it has occurred to me that this same piece of advice pertains to my spiritual life as well. How much do I really want to be close to God? How much do I really long for His presence in my life? How serious am I about wanting to know Him more?

For many years my life verse has been Jeremiah 29:11. You probably can recite it by heart - everyone loves it. "For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you, not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future". It's a great promise and many times in my life I have depended on it like a life preserver on a crazy, wild ocean. There is a verse that follows it that we don't quote quite so often:

"When you seek me you will find me, when you seek me with all of your heart."

Last year I joined many others in choosing a word to live by for the year. I lamented that my word for the year failed miserably.
For some reason I guess I thought I would just pick a word and the mantle of it would fall on me. Like gardening, I expected beautiful results with not much effort on my part.

This year I entered into the new year tired, discouraged and worn out. I felt a measure of general unhappiness and dissatisfaction that overshadowed my days. I kept thinking I needed a change in my life - a change in location, a change in job, a change in friends - just a change in something, anything. The word renew was constantly on my mind and in my heart. I wanted renewal in my life. I longed for it. I began to realize it wasn't really change I desired so desperately, it was renewal. And suddenly I knew in my spirit that I needed to concentrate on renewal this year. So I claimed the word as mine for 2011.

But this time I did it differently. I didn't just sit waiting for God to pour some renewal over my head because I had been so kind enough to ask for it. I chose instead, to be an active participant in this journey. I chose to seek him with all of my heart, the best way I knew how. I chose some new behaviors in my life.

First of all, I chose to spend more time in His Word. Instead of just sporadic Bible reading I chose a regimented Bible In A Year program. I downloaded a translation that was new to me - The New Living Translation - on to my Kindle. I don't know if it's the Kindle, the fresh new translation or both - but this is working for me. I haven't missed a day and I look forward to each days reading.

Next, I joined Beth Moore's Siesta Scripture challenge. I have joined over 9000 other women in memorizing a new scripture every two weeks. My first scripture was easy to choose - I want to memorize scripture that helps me with the way I think and process things. I chose Phillipians 4:4-9. I focus on the verse that tells me to think about whatever things are true. My mind has a way of worrying about every single angle of an issue and then when that gets old, I venture into the land of "what if's". Things that aren't necessarily true. This scripture reminds me to stay centered on what is true. What is noble. What is right. What is right. What is pure. What is lovely. I love it! Memorization is not easy or fun for me. But like any other discipline it is good for me. My verse this time is perfect: "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day." Oh yes I am!

I am participating in Bloom Book Club's book club and we are reading Ann Voskamp's book - One Thousand Gifts - A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. This is a most remarkable book and I can tell you that I have been reading chapter one all week. I mean I have read chapter one every day this week. It is so beautifully written and so full of profound thoughts - I just keep re-reading it so that I don't miss out on anything. I'm not sure when I will make it to chapter two. I don't really care. I don't want to miss a word of the message God is sharing with me.

I know that God is speaking to me because everything I am reading, everything I am memorizing, everything I am hearing has the same message to me. Every single thing. And in this process, in this manner that I am seeking Him with my whole heart - guess what? He is keeping His promise and I am beginning to feel the lapping of Renewal on the edges of my heart. I am sensing His presence as I seek Him. I am tasting the salt of change in the air of the fresh breezes that have started rustling by me. I find myself holding my breath as I anticipate what this year is going to hold for God and me.

This spiritual gardening project I have taken on is going to harvest much different results than the garden in my back yard. I know this because I have made the conscious choice to LOVE it with everything in me. I desire His presence in my life so much that I am willing to do whatever it is I need to do to love Him with my whole heart. I'm not so naive as to believe I won't have to be dealing with some nasty insects and weeds along the way. But I am prepared. I am ready.

And I hope you check in along the way to see some beautiful bouquets.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing dear Robin! I really enjoyed this...I'm working on being more intentional in my time with God too!

Becky said...

Oh my goodness Robin this is so incredible. I am just amazed at where you are now, and where God has taken you. It is incredible.

Thank you so much for sharing such a journey. I am praying for you in your walk of RENEWAL. I pray for all my friends that have a Word of the Year. There are about 6 of us I think.

I am so thrilled with this post, which, by the way, is so beautifully written. Thank you.

Karen said...

Robin, this is such an awesome post. Thank you for sharing what's in your heart! The analogy to garden has opened my eyes. I've been searching for a word this year, too, hesitant to give up last year's word because I learned so much from it, but wanting to start new and fresh. The word that keeps coming back to me is Seeking. And the verse you quoted, "When you seek me you will find me, when you seek me with all of your heart," just puts it all in perspective for me.

Wonderful post!

Dawn said...

Oh, Robin, this is so beautiful. You spoke my heart in ways I cannot put into words. Beautiful. Powerful. I have the word "change" in my mind as a word for the year, but I haven't done anything yet to write about it. The "renew" is a more specific concept - I love what God is doing for you. I need renewal so much!

Julie Fink said...

Such an encouraging post. Been thinking about you lately. Glad I found you again ♥

Robyn Q said...

As always, your beautiful heart shines through here! I was challenged earlier this week about a word for the day, week or season we might be in. A whole year is a long time. Some things need that much time I suppose. The more I think about it...I like that idea a lot! Blessings over you for being so transparent. RENEWAL is beautiful!!! I know the renewal I've witnessed. It's Glory here & lasts for eternity! Hugs

Dawn said...

When you get a chance, come over and read my latest ramblings - I'll bet you will be able to relate.

Dawn said...

You must be very busy! I miss your words here. I was just over at Becky's place and saw your comment that you drive 35 miles to work - I didn't realize it was that far. No matter you want to be done!