Monday, June 23, 2014

Invitation to the Garden

You care for the land and water it;
  you enrich it abundantly.
The streams of God are filled with water
  to provide the people with grain,
  for so you have ordained it.
You drench its furrows and level its ridges;
  you soften it with showers and bless its crops.
You crown the year with your bounty,
  and your carts overflow with abundance.
The grasslands of the wilderness overflow;
  the hills are clothed with gladness.
The meadows are covered with flocks
  and the valleys are mantled with grain;
  they shout for you and sing.
-Psalm 64: 9-13 (TNIV)

Every morning the Almighty welcomes to each of us, inviting us to a place of stillness, an inner sanctuary, a garden. “Deep calls to deep” (Psalm 42:7); here the unfathomable depths of God call to the deepest possibilities and most profound longings within us. That inner place in our spirit is a walled garden where, alone with God, we find ourselves secure and loved. That inner space flows with abundance.

Such an inner garden awaits us as a refuge from our storm-tossed world where temporal things come and go, and their promised happiness disappoints us time and again. The busyness of the day leaves us panting for breath, and the contingencies of life, health, career and relationship, all too often make us empty and vulnerable.

Yet in the midst of uncertainty, loss and turmoil, we can pull our focus within to a place of peace. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee” (Isaiah 26:3 KJV), promises God’s word. Such inner calm does not deny the reality of life’s challenges nor ignore the pain we suffer. Rather, that hidden refuge gives us a respite of peace where we can be strengthen and restored. It provides an anchor amid the pounding waves, so that—battered and storm-tossed, though we may be—we hold firm with a profound trust and calm that surpasses understanding.

From that secret garden within, the voice of God’s Spirit comes again and again, inviting us to enter stillness and rest. Sometimes we ignore the divine offer, contenting ourselves with temporal satisfaction or distracting ourselves with frenetic activity. Other times we disbelieve that offer, thinking it too good to be true, and we seek to fend for ourselves. Yet, if we dare to believe, the Spirit invites us to a hidden place more real than earthly reality. This is the “hiding place” described by the Psalmist; it is the rock that is higher than I (Psalm 61:2).

We must begin the morning with stillness; otherwise, we have little hope of finding to it. However, having located our inner garden in the quietness of the new day, we can return throughout the busyness of the day, whatever contingencies of life we might face.

I come to the garden alone
    while the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
    the Son of God discloses.

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
    and He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
    none other has ever known. –C. Austin Miles, “In the Garden”  

© 2014 Glenn E. Myers