“You are My private garden, My treasure, My bride, a secluded spring, a hidden fountain.” Song 4:12 (NLT)
I actually love gardens and gardening. It is our desire to transform our property into a prayer garden where His presence is tangibly felt! Amazing things transpire in gardens! And I believe that God loves the garden too!
The Garden was a beautiful place where God put Adam and Eve to work and care for, before they fell (Genesis 2:8-10 & 15). It was in that garden God originally walked with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day (Genesis 3:8). The bride establishes a secret garden that she shares on with her lover (Song 4:12-16). And the Groom comes into the garden to collect the fragrant things that have been prepared for Him (Song 5:1 & 6:1). It was in a garden called Gethsemane, that Jesus loved to pray and where He ultimately spent His last hours of freedom in agonizing prayer as He sweated great drops of blood (Matthew 26:36, Luke 22:44, John 18:1). It was in that same garden Judas betrayed Him with a kiss (Luke 22:48). Jesus’ tomb is in a garden, making a garden the location of the resurrection (John 19:41). Remember, the risen Jesus was mistaken as the gardener by Mary (John 20:15)!
Isaiah tells about a “garden of the LORD” where joy and gladness is found, along with thanksgiving and the voice of song (Isaiah 58:11). Jeremiah tells us that kings have gardens which often provided a secret way of escape (Jeremiah 39:4 & 52:7). Ezekiel tells us about Satan being in Eden, which is called the garden of God (Ezekiel 28:13).
Today there are many “prayer gardens.” Billy Graham has one in Asheville, NC. We briefly stopped at a few years ago. God’s peace tangibly rests in that place, even at the entrance! Decades ago I had the opportunity to spend time at a couple prayer mountains in South Korea, which included prayer gardens! It was evident that God’s presence fills the places we pray and worship. As such we can create physical spaces that drip with God’s presence.
Yes, gardens are important to God! Many people also feel God’s presence in their own garden or when they go to places like the Botanical Gardens. And of course, the enemy will do whatever he can to defile it and get us out of it (remember that serpent)! Nevertheless, there is a secret garden, that hidden place where we develop a private history with the Lord. This is our secret place where we meet with the Lord, where we cultivate the things in our life that pleases Him. Where we commune with Him and Him with us! This place is just between Him and each one of us individually. So how you tend your garden really does matter. You truly will reap what you sow! No one else can do that for you. You must seek the Lord to find the special herbs, and fragrant flowers that He loves and wants in your life (Song 4:12-5:1). The only way to enjoy your garden is to send much time cultivating it, and of course I am talking about investing in our intimate relationship with God!
Ask Him to give you a glimpse of the kind of garden He wants to grow in your life. Repent if you have neglected your garden! Ask Him what sort of fragrant things He likes and begin cultivating them in your heart. Go to your secret place with Him often. The more you go the better it will be. It is crazy how fast “weeds” pop up and accumulate. Pray for your pastor to cultivate the garden of his heart with the Lord. Pray that your church would truly become a fragrant place because of all the individuals who have cultivated their intimate relationship with Jesus. Pray with me that Athens would become a garden city where the Father loves to walk in the cool of the day with His kids, and Jesus with His bride!