Text Illustrations
Unfinished Flower Beds! (09.19.05--Grace Walks!--John 17:17)

When we purchased Beech Springs years ago, we arrived in a valley that was purposed by trees, trees and more trees. There was little lawn because the trees shaded it out. The trees fenced in the house and driveway so that there was scant room or resource with which to do much in the way of landscaping. That was to my liking, however. There would be little need for tiller, spade and wheelbarrow here. I could focus on making wood and the necessary improvements that were needed inside the house. Puttering with flower beds and the like was so tedious and, as opposed to making wood and other tasks like it, were slow in demonstrating any visible progress. That is, of course, until the elms in the immediate area began to succumb to disease. Suddenly spaces were opened; spaces that beckoned my wife and pled, “Plant a sunflower here or nestle a poppy there!” It wasn’t long that a Mantis tiller and a wheelbarrow appeared on my gift list.

I have often thought how like those flower beds you and I are as we daily walk in grace. It takes work to get us ready for growth in grace. And, sometimes, the results aren’t so immediately visible. But, over time, the work and effort pay off. The flowers bloom and fade and come back again the next year that much more brilliant and bountiful.

Phillips Brooks, . . . was a very busy pastor, yet he always seemed relaxed and unburdened, willing to take time for anyone in need. Shortly before he died, someone asked him the secret of his strength and serenity. In a heartfelt response, Brooks credited his still-growing relationship with Christ. He responded, “The more I have thought it over, the more sure it has seemed to me that these last years have had a peace and fullness which there did not used to be. It is a deeper knowledge and truer love of Christ. . . . I cannot tell you how personal this grows to me. He is here. He knows me and I know Him. It is the most real thing in the world. And every day makes it more real. And one wonders with delight what it will grow to as the years go on.” (Our Daily Bread, October 14, 1994)

God promises to “sanctify” us “by the truth” (John 17:17) in our daily walk with Him. That is, He will make us holy, set apart and cleansed through Christ Jesus. He doesn’t tell us that it is a work completed overnight, however. It is something that is ongoing like my wife tending those flower beds. As the faithful gardener He digs, weeds, tills and transplants in the gardens of our hearts. Then, when day is done, we are known to Him perfectly as we continue to grow in our knowledge of Him. It won’t happen overnight nor should it. Some of the best Flower beds are those which are never completed.

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