~ February 18 ~
“And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.” (Isaiah 58:11)
I hope there are some among the readers of this devotion who are gardeners, for they will already have a good understanding of the Garden of the Soul. Here is a fine description that is given by Solomon: “A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed. 13Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard, 14Spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices: 15A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon. 16Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.” (Song of Solomon 4:12-16)
This is very akin to the love and passion Christ has for His own Bride, the Church, and each heart that comprises that Church. It is generally believed that the soul resides in the spiritual heart – not the clay organ that pumps our life blood to the body, but the tender Temple of the Spirit from which flows Living Waters of Life to all who come near to it – if its occupant is Christ. This spiritual heart is what I refer to as the Garden of the Soul for it is, in so many ways, precisely like a Garden.
If you have an elementary understanding of gardening, you will know that a garden, needs protecting. We erect fences and raise scare crows around our gardens. We go out regularly to ensure that nothing has invaded the garden to steal its treasures of nutritious vegetables, fruits, or flowers. One nagging problem that we must always be aware of, and expunge from the garden, are weeds and parasites. These are comparable to the spiritual desires, lusts, and temptations that confront the Garden of the Soul as well. These need no cultivation for they spring up in every place that the enemy of our soul has planted them. Those spiritual weeds will take over the Garden of the Soul if left to themselves. As the comely Shulamite Maiden (the Church) spoke unto her Beloved Solomon (Christ): “Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes. 16My beloved is mine, and I am his: he feedeth among the lilies.” (Song 2:15-16) We need not wonder about these ‘little foxes’ for they are cunning temptations that try to draw us away from the production of fruit in our Garden. They may be sins that are cherished, silently, just beneath the surface of our garden walls. All others we forsake, but we hold to that cherished “wedge of gold.” (Joshua 7:21)
It is in the Garden of our Souls that we, too, will find our Beloved Lord. He walked in the Garden, eastward in Eden, among the flowing waters and terraced beds of flora with Adam and Eve. That Garden was guarded by Angels. But the two fell victim to the lies and deceits of the devil in their disobedience of their Beloved Maker. They were expelled from the Garden. They wondered in a new and nearly barren wilderness in darkness with little hope of returning to the Garden. But God, as He always does for His beloved, made a way for them long before they fell from grace – the Master Gardener (Jesus Christ) would make a way for their reconciliation with God the Father if they would only accept and follow that Way.
So now we must guard our hearts (souls) with constant vigilance against that same voice that led astray our first parents. He lingers always near the Garden and watches for every breach in our defense. He is anxious to plant bitterweed alongside our herbs and vegetables. One thing the veteran gardener knows is this: If you plant cucumbers or corn, the earth will render the same in multiplied quantities. If you sow the wind, you will likewise reap the whirlwind. (See Hosea 8:7) The devil will happily provide you with every ill-wind you wish to sow; but the good seed come only from God. A good garden must be prepared by cultivation. Do we prepare the hearts of our youth to know Christ in the time of understanding? Cultivation is not easy – it requires concentration, effort, and discipline. But if we raise our children in the nurture of God’s Word, the seed we sow will have fertile ground from which to spring forth in search of the Light of the Sun.
There is yet another kind of pestilence with which the gardener must contend – Thieves. They seem to feel more at home in the churches of America today than in any previous time. They wish to steal the fruit of God’s house and mal-appropriate it. While a young man living in the Far East, I saw that every large paddy or orchard was furnished with a tall tower made of slender wooden frames. They were everywhere, and I knew that they could not be for the purpose of sighting forest fires. The local farmers told me that these were watchtowers to keep thieves from stealing the fruit of their labors. The Garden of our Soul needs the Watchtower of God’s Word for the same purpose. The wolf in sheep’s clothing cannot forever wear his disguise. There are many clues by which we may know him if we read our Bibles with the diligence with which he reads his. Remember, “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” (James 2:19)
That old serpent, the devil, knows the Voice of Christ and His Word well – and so do his minions. But they do not accept the Lordship of Christ. They are after those souls that belong to Christ, and we must be vigilant against his evil designs. He is a traitor that may march under our colors and wear our uniform. But the Christian can know him by his wolf’s voice and prints. Look around you – there are plenty of them leading to the very door of the Church.