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“SECRET GARDENS” – Sept 22

September 22, 2013

“Then he said to me, ‘Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the dark, each in his room of pictures?’  For they say, ‘The Lord does not see us, the Lord has forsaken the land.’”  Ezekiel 8:12

English: Herb Knot Garden, University of Michi...

English: Herb Knot Garden, University of Michigan Matthaie Botanical Gardens, 1800 Dixboro Road, Superior Township, Michigan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Walk with me my friend through the garden of my life.

A garden of one’s life takes many years to craft and nurture.  Through those years, a garden design has emerged from my life that has areas of contemplation, vistas and focal points.  My garden has a logical progression of hedges, trees, shrubbery and lawn that directs visitors through various garden rooms.  The accomplishments of life anchor these garden spaces supplemented by plantings of context to provide an interesting assortment of colors and texture.

Stroll through my garden and you will find that the intention of the design is to lead all back to the same area – the amphitheater of praise.  A large mound dominates this broad expanse. It is high and lifted up.  It stands above all other rooms and structures.  The amphitheater is open and inviting, providing clear vistas in all directions, and wonderfully bright.  The plantings and borders provide the shape of my personality to draw the eye to the single focal point of the garden.

English: Amphitheater of Porolissum

English: Amphitheater of Porolissum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Upon the mound, my Savior stands.  He is alive and welcoming.  He is always in my amphitheater when I come.  I come to Him for comfort and direction.  I come to Him for love and correction.  I come to Him for knowledge and refreshment.  I come to Him directly.  I also stumble before Him inadvertently.  However, I always leave in praise.

The design of the garden of my life intends to guide myself and others to the same place for the same purpose, which is the praise of the King of kings.

English: Hidden shed Hidden brick shed by the ...

English: Hidden shed Hidden brick shed by the footpath. Don’t think it’s used though it is in an overgrown garden. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Walk further with me.  Push through this wall of vegetation.  Pull back these branches and behold a secret entrance that is far away from the amphitheater.  It is an entrance to my secret gardens that have been hidden away from the eyes of others.  I have many of these entrances hidden away in my garden.

We must let our eyes adjust to the darkness of these hidden gardens.  Allow me to guide you through this dark labyrinth of weeds and thorns.  You will see many small rooms tucked in the secluded corners and off narrow corridors.

Each room has a mound in the center upon which stands a different statue.  There are no vistas from these rooms.  They are not inviting nor are they welcoming.  These rooms have tall walls and thick overgrowth that cover their created purpose.  Each statue is the focal point of their room.  In discontent, I come to these rooms to drink from the intoxicating pool that these rooms promise.  Each room promises to fulfill my indwelling desires and wants, the only condition is that I worship there.

Walk with me into these secret rooms:

This statue has been created in my own image.  I come to this room when I feel good about myself.  I come here when I feel bad about myself.  The praise of others drives me before this statue as does criticism.  The tug of my own boot straps often lands me upon my knees before this statue.  Let us walk some more…

This is a statue of others.  Notice all of the nice things that they have.  Look closely at all of the abilities that they possess.  Do you see how much they are liked and appreciated?  I come here when I am aware of what I don’t have.  I linger in this room while I focus on what could have been.  Discontentment has given me long nights of worship before this statue.  Let us walk some more…

This is a statue of all that satisfies.  It is a statue of images carved in the stony fabric of my life.  There are innumerable images within this statue, many of which are covered by the prickly vines of neglect.  I often discover new objects of worship as I pull back the overgrowth that has long hidden my secret remedies to the pain of life.  The pint of ice cream and case of beer are carved into the wall.  The cheesecake and bag of caramels are there.  If you look closely, you will see the images of hobbies, entertainment and the distraction of sport, all prominently featured.  I come here when I am depressed and long to feel better.  When I have been overwhelmed and seeking an escape, I sat  before this statue in mindless worship, not even realizing what I was doing.  Let us walk some more…

This is a statue that promises every bodily pleasure.  Isn’t she beautiful?  She is a statue of unnatural proportions and unrealistic expectations without a face.  A slightest hint of the erotic will send me here.  A glimpse of the inappropriate will entice me to bow down.  A lingering glance is all that it takes to inflame natural passions into unnatural directions.  The modern harlot takes on many manifestations that are so easily accessible in this secret room.  When obedience becomes oppressive and self-control a theory, I have often found myself in front of this harlot in degrading worship.  Let us walk some more…

This is a scary statue.  It is the image of my rage.  All that is the opposite of love is represented in that image.  My outright anger and hate is there but if you look close you will see all of my gossip, back-biting, unkindness, indifference, scheming and deceitfulness.  This is a very ugly statue.  When I refuse to forgive, this is where I go.  Those times when wrath was allowed to freely flow across my tongue, it was a proclamation of praise within this room.  All of those times when I have been hurtful and unloving, this is the statue I kneeled before.  Let us walk some more…

 This is a statue of a dollar bill but it represents so much more than currency.  This is a statue to all my desire for material wealth and gain.  This is the statue for the lifestyle of the rich and famous.  This is the room for all those day dreams of winning the lottery.  This is the statue for payday’s discontentment.  All the worries of tomorrow’s retirement find their home here.  I have found myself here when I have debated how much to put in the offering plate.  Generosities constraints have often been formulated within this room.  My love of money is really the worship of this statue.  Let us walk some more…

This is a statue of my couch.  Here is the comfortable confines of omission.  This is where I go when I know that I should do something but just don’t feel like it.  I come here when I am tired.  I have come when I am simply fed up.  I have spent significant periods before this statue with the justification that I don’t have sufficient calling to move away.  My refusals to do what I know the Bible tells me to do were really just worship of this statue.

I think that is enough walking.  I wanted to take you through these secret gardens of mine because I believe that we all have them in some sense.  There are attitude and actions that we do in private that no one else can see.  Those are our secret gardens.  However, they are not secret from God.

These gardens must be continually destroyed because they keep us from the presence of Christ and worship of Him.  We may think that they are gone but they have an insidious way of growing back and drawing us away.  Therefore, we must vigilent in seeking them out and destroying them as they are revealed to us.

We do that through the power of the Spirit and repentance.  As the Spirit reveals the false gods of our hidden worship, we must repent and return to the amphitheater of Christ.

When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, “Repent” (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.  Martin Luther

Our entire life should be spent in destroying these secret gardens (repentance) and cultivating a garden of praise to our Lord and Savior.

What is the design of the garden of your life?

PRAYER: Lord, forgive me for my worship of these false gods.  Forgive me for wandering away from your presence and returning to the vomit of my former life.  Lord, I want to worship you and you alone.  Create in me a heart of worship that seeks only you.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

3 comments

  1. Really challenging, and very much something I could relate to. Thanks! I needed to read this.


  2. Whew! –“the vomit of my former life?!” You’re definitely not mincing words in your prayer! That’s calling sin what it is, though. Quite the graphic image to help us be repelled by it.

    Your secret garden sounds similar to mine–with a few variations. You’ve spoken truth with wit and candor. I have a feeling the Lord will be using these images to draw me to the hillside in the middle, the amphitheater of praise! Thank you, JD, for an exceptional, meaningful post.


  3. I agree with your prayer, because we continually need to guard our heart. Peace be unto you and yours, may God protect you from common “running” injuries.



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