Today is a pleasant day by the lake. It may be blistering hot in the Missouri sun and humidity, but the cover of our patio and the gentle breeze make this spot bearable…for the moment. The lake is full of boats trailed by white foam and there’s even a couple large houseboats lazily meandering through the lovely blue water. It brings a smile to my face as I enjoy this view of people enjoying life with their family and friends. My entire surroundings are “happy”.
What a tremendous blessing to live in a place where it feels as if I’m the only one around. The sounds of nature and wildlife along with the buzz of boats are my entertainment, and the sparkle of the blue water is mesmerizing. Two robust hanging flower pots enhance our view of the lake but lately one of them started to look sickly. We kept our eyes on it, watering it a bit more and gently snipping off some of the dried leaves in the hopes it would bounce back. But today, it was clear that these purple and white flowers needed some extra TLC.
I brought it under the greater protection and shade of the covered patio, grabbed my garden shears, and tended delicately to it in the hope that some rest from harsh elements would give it the extra support it needs to heal.
As I was cutting out the dead vines and dried flowers, checking the soil, and talking to it, I was filled with gratitude at the tender way God, the Father, tends to my body and soul when I am in need of extra attention. Every little thing I do seems to be full of lessons from Heaven. The passage in the Bible of the vinedresser came to mind and how the Father picks up the sickly vines, lifting them up out of the dirt to help them recover.
I am a true sprouting vine, and the farmer who tends the vine is my Father. He cares for the branches connected to Me by lifting and propping up the fruitless branches and pruning every fruitful branch to yield a greater harvest. John 15:1-2 (TPT)
As I write, the flower basket I was tending to sits at my side and already it seems to be much happier now that it has respite from the intensity of the sun and the deadness is removed. We all could use a bit of that from time to time. I pray that the soil is good and free from disease or harmful insects. Sometimes, that which is making us sick or unable to thrive is that which we can not see. But what we can’t see, God sees.
In the verse above, I had read it for most of my life in a translation that says the fruitless branches were removed. This created a sense of fear and worry that when I messed up God would throw me away. For so long, I worked so hard to earn the approval of the Father- and the harder I tried, the worse I got.
God is just and what He decides or does is righteous, just, and perfect. But when I learned that the actual translation in Greek is “He takes up to Himself every fruitless branch” it was so relieving – and it fit the rest of scripture. After all, scripture also says that the Father is merciful and it is the kindness of God that leads to repentance. He forgives every time I genuinely repent. His mercies are new every morning. It made so much sense that the Father, who is a good Shephard and seeks out and rescues lost sheep, putting them on His shoulders, would also lift up fruitless vines that are in Christ Jesus and tend to them by holding them to Himself.
How good and merciful is our God!
Yet we must also remember that as we take scripture as a whole, it is clear that the key to His mercy is repentance.
How wonderful it is to think that God tends to us with the same care and love (and more!) as I did with my flowers. I felt His pleasure as I tenderly lifted the little vines, looking for any sign of what might be causing the plant distress. Holy Spirit does the same for me, carefully pointing out mindsets, words, wrong beliefs, or other choices that cause me to stumble into darkness. His loving hand is so gentle and good when we humbly respond to His direction and discipline.
The Father is a good caretaker of our lives. And I just love how He teaches me so many profound truths in the midst of the simplest tasks.