Lessons From the Garden

I told this story on last week’s podcast, and a friend of mine typed it up for his Facebook page. I reprint it here (with some gentle edits), because the story is growing in our family to understand something about God’s nature and our own. When we try to defend what God isn’t defending, we only end up hurting people and spoil the very thing God is using to engage them in a relationship that will in time transform them naturally, without having to enforce a lot of rules.

The grandkids were over. We were in Sara’s garden. And Sara had gotten Amy a rake and she was raking up some of the wood chips that Sara has on the pathways in the garden. I said to her, “No, Honey, don’t do that.” And I began raking them back in the path. “They are not supposed to be in piles; they are supposed to be spread out.”

Amy gave me the look, as if to say, “Gee, that’s no fun, Grandpa.” I obviously ruined her fun by telling her the way things were supposed to be. I didn’t want to be that guy!

Later, after everyone was gone, Sara said to me, “You and Julie are funny in my garden.”

“What do you mean?” I asked

“You are always fussing about the kids. Don’t rake that, don’t pick that flower, or walk over there. I don’t really care. I want my grandchildren to really enjoy my garden and I want them to really enjoy being with me. I don’t care what they do in my garden as long as they are not going to hurt themselves or each other, or destroy something. I don’t care if they pick flowers, I don’t care if they rake the wood chips into piles. I can un-rake them easy enough.”

As I listened to her I thought, I don’t care if they are raked into piles either. I was just trying to protect Sara’s garden. I know she works hard to keep it looking nice. But why was I trying to defend something Sara wasn’t defending herself? For her it was about the joy of relationship. She wanted them to have fun in her garden so they would have fun with her.

When I heard her say that I immediately thought of how I often I’ve done that to other people in God’s garden. He’s inviting them into a relationship while I’m trying to make sure they don’t mess anything up. What if God doesn’t care what they mess up while they are growing in relationship with him?

The God Journey Podcast, July 30, 2010

What a lesson! When you put the relationship first, keeping things neat and tidy no longer makes sense. Those things can be fixed easily enough. What God cares about is enjoying his kids long enough until they care about the things he cares about. In the meantime, that might mean some piles get raked up in places he doesn’t need them raked up.

But he can put them back easily enough when we’re done.

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18 Comments
  1. Bill Ooms August 2, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    As I was reading this, I couldn’t help but think of the Garden that God provided for Adam and Eve. He wanted them to enjoy the garden and enjoy being with Him (so long as they didn’t hurt themselves in one particular way).

    Thanks.

  2. kent August 2, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    Now Wayne, that story could be one of the stories in the book I started tonight BEAUTY The Invisible Embrace

  3. kent August 2, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    And this from the paragraph I immediately returned to after reading your blog.

    “This was an event of pure disclosure: a sudden epiphany from between the worlds. The strange beauty of the cormorant was a counterpoint to the dream like delicacy of the lake and the landscape. Sometimes beauty is that unpredictable; a threshold we had never noticed opens, mystery comes alive around us and we realize how the earth is full of conceled beauty.”

  4. Doni August 2, 2010 at 9:30 pm

    Love that.

  5. Bill Ooms August 2, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    As I was reading this, I couldn’t help but think of the Garden that God provided for Adam and Eve. He wanted them to enjoy the garden and enjoy being with Him (so long as they didn’t hurt themselves in one particular way).

    Thanks.

  6. kent August 2, 2010 at 11:11 pm

    Now Wayne, that story could be one of the stories in the book I started tonight BEAUTY The Invisible Embrace

  7. kent August 2, 2010 at 11:21 pm

    And this from the paragraph I immediately returned to after reading your blog.

    “This was an event of pure disclosure: a sudden epiphany from between the worlds. The strange beauty of the cormorant was a counterpoint to the dream like delicacy of the lake and the landscape. Sometimes beauty is that unpredictable; a threshold we had never noticed opens, mystery comes alive around us and we realize how the earth is full of conceled beauty.”

  8. Doni August 3, 2010 at 12:30 am

    Love that.

  9. Theresa August 3, 2010 at 7:08 am

    Love that story….absolutely love it….

  10. Theresa August 3, 2010 at 10:08 am

    Love that story….absolutely love it….

  11. Sue August 5, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    I love the story, I used to let my granddaughter get into my refrigerator and cabinets and make her ”recipe”, she’d throw all kinds of things in a bowl and mix it up, we had flour, milk, sugar, etc. all over the floor and ourselves, we didn’t care, we were sharing a moment in time that I and hopefully she will always cherish. Her parents would come in and be upset because of the mess, I’d just laugh and tell them wait until they had grandkids. Some of us have been raised to believe a certain way, the right way, and we feel it’s our duty to set people straight, it’s a hard thing to let go of, but I’m learning to live free and live loved, and to allow others the same opportunity.

  12. Sue August 5, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    I love the story, I used to let my granddaughter get into my refrigerator and cabinets and make her ”recipe”, she’d throw all kinds of things in a bowl and mix it up, we had flour, milk, sugar, etc. all over the floor and ourselves, we didn’t care, we were sharing a moment in time that I and hopefully she will always cherish. Her parents would come in and be upset because of the mess, I’d just laugh and tell them wait until they had grandkids. Some of us have been raised to believe a certain way, the right way, and we feel it’s our duty to set people straight, it’s a hard thing to let go of, but I’m learning to live free and live loved, and to allow others the same opportunity.

  13. Larissa August 6, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    Very good. I enjoyed that. After all, life is messy and engaging in other people’s lives can be messy too. I’m pretty sure God likes messy too. He can save us from something. He’s the hero.

  14. Larissa August 6, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    Very good. I enjoyed that. After all, life is messy and engaging in other people’s lives can be messy too. I’m pretty sure God likes messy too. He can save us from something. He’s the hero.

  15. Don August 12, 2010 at 11:01 am

    As I heard this shared on the podcast I must say it spoke deeply to me. My life is in a huge state of flux. Working toward living the fulltime pastoral ministry, wife just got a new job she loves. My oldest daugther lives with us and her husband and our grandson. Our youngest home now doing college on line. So much noise and business. Son in law headed to the Navy sometime soon after which dautgher and grandson will be joining him, Youngest daughter getting married next summer. House is messy and at time I find myself wanting it to be clean and Quiet. Then Father says enjoy the time for it will pass alto quickly. I am trying to enjoy this time with family and kids because all to soon it will be gone, The mess will be be cleaned and the wall will echo od silence. I know that tears will replace the noise of busy live of loving my kids in the transistions of their lives. Constant change but I see father gently saying enjoy, do not rush. Leave the piles and enjoy the love and being loved there is nothing better.
    God Bless

  16. Don August 12, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    As I heard this shared on the podcast I must say it spoke deeply to me. My life is in a huge state of flux. Working toward living the fulltime pastoral ministry, wife just got a new job she loves. My oldest daugther lives with us and her husband and our grandson. Our youngest home now doing college on line. So much noise and business. Son in law headed to the Navy sometime soon after which dautgher and grandson will be joining him, Youngest daughter getting married next summer. House is messy and at time I find myself wanting it to be clean and Quiet. Then Father says enjoy the time for it will pass alto quickly. I am trying to enjoy this time with family and kids because all to soon it will be gone, The mess will be be cleaned and the wall will echo od silence. I know that tears will replace the noise of busy live of loving my kids in the transistions of their lives. Constant change but I see father gently saying enjoy, do not rush. Leave the piles and enjoy the love and being loved there is nothing better.
    God Bless

  17. Sally August 15, 2010 at 8:40 am

    I abandoned my garden… now full of vines and thorns…Come Master Gardner, Come. Help me remove the lock from the gate of my soul and spirit. When the garden is restored, I know my Spirit will have been as well. Wayne, thanks for the books. Thank You, Master Gardener.

  18. Sally August 15, 2010 at 11:40 am

    I abandoned my garden… now full of vines and thorns…Come Master Gardner, Come. Help me remove the lock from the gate of my soul and spirit. When the garden is restored, I know my Spirit will have been as well. Wayne, thanks for the books. Thank You, Master Gardener.

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