Thank you, dear Gardeners, for another great year together! I am so glad we have found each other and enjoyed the journey together of connecting God’s Word to our garden life, seeing the Word in the land. As you may remember, I take the winter months to work behind the scenes and get ready for the gala of spring growth—who still has bulbs to plant, yikes!?! Join me in tidy-up time and we will meet again when the Garden in Delight Devotions Blog returns Thursday, February 23rd, 2023, with a special series of weekly devotions through the Lenten season. But before we part, let’s look back at the ground covered in this happy old year.
My Father is the Gardener Released this Fall
My new devotional, My Father is the Gardener, made its way to hands and hearts beginning this October, hallelujah! I am so delighted at the engaging beauty of the illustrations, thanks to the amazing talents of artist Layla Luna, photographer Gary Logan, and book designer Becky Horn. Read more about the skilled artisans in Preview my New Book. If you have not bought a copy, you can do so here (click link) — the book will inform and inspire your spring gardening in the most delightful way.
Listen to a great book review by Carol Michel and Dee Nash on The Gardenangelists podcast, December 13, 2022, at the 11:53 mark. You will love their conversational format filled with garden info and funny chit-chat, like you are speaking with a neighbor across the fence.
Happy Old Year
While the world was a back and forth of chaos, healing, re-orienting, and finding a “new normal” in 2022, the Devotions Blog puttered along with garden insight from God’s Word, keeping us grounded and close to God. Remembering Him while working the soil, sowing seeds, and caring for plant life is a mighty way to keep the joy of His Presence; in this way it was a happy old year! Catch up on these articles you may have missed or return to favorites in this line-up:
Garden Moments – among Christmas trees, drought-weary gardens, entwining vines
Garden Recipes – go garden-to-table with recipes for raisin cakes, apricot cobble, Red Sea red quinoa
Garden Visits – Fort Worth Botanic Garden, a special retreat to enjoy this year
Lenten Series – Grounded in God, a study in humility
Biblical Feasts – celebration praises for Feast of Tabernacles, Days of Awe, and the coming feast with the Lord
Book Reviews – Grow Your Own Mini-Fruit Garden by Christy Wilhelmi, a perfect how-to for Biblical fruit enthusiasts
In addition, the Garden in Delight mid-season eNewsletter brought more garden news, digging into more about living God’s Word in the garden life. If you want to reread, they are all available on the Garden in Delight News page.
A New Year’s Word
Do you listen to God for a Word for the New Year? The Lord Is Peace (Judges 6:24) has pinpointed my thoughts in His way of peace over the last few weeks, in two garden vignettes and a song. How does he catch your attention? Mine has been a treasure-hunt-like journey of converging revelations during morning journaling, with songs and ideas zipping bird-like through my mind throughout the day. O what fun!
His first gesture to me was a moving rewrite I heard of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” sung by Audrey Assad, with the new chorus proclaiming His Peace will make us one. Listen to the song on YouTube here. The steady drumbeat marched my heart in pursuit of this mysterious, unifying peace.
Meanwhile, happy artwork from a Christmas card led me to think of the glorious proclamation that Isaiah made at the outset of his prophet’s life:
“Come, let’s go up to the Lord’s mountain, to the house of Jacob’s God so that he may teach us his ways and we may walk in God’s paths.” Instruction will come from Zion; the Lord’s word from Jerusalem. God will judge between the nations, and settle disputes of mighty nations. Then they will beat their swords into iron plows and their spears into pruning tools. Nation will not take up sword against nation; they will no longer learn how to make war. Isaiah 2:3-4 CEB
The transformation of weapons into gardening tools is a picture of peace endearing to any gardener’s heart. However, the Lord helped me see an even deeper treasure in this Word. “Plows” are used to prepare fields, usually for grain crops, such as wheat…leading ultimately to producing bread. “Pruning tools” are used mainly to trim fruit trees or grapevines…leading ultimately to producing wine. Behold! This Word is a decree for communion, in bread and wine, with the Lord, the place of supreme peace. Interestingly, many have been led to take communion every day this month.
Finally, the Lord gave me a reveal that I have wondered about for years, ever since working on God’s Word for Gardeners Bible. In Zechariah 4, the two olive trees that Zechariah saw—what was the hint in the horticulture about these two trees flanking the menorah? Beyond the devotion I wrote for the book, like Zechariah I have always wondered, what are these, Lord?
[He] asked me, “What do you see?” I answered, “I’ve been looking at a menorah; it’s all of gold, with a bowl at its top, seven lamps on it, and seven tubes leading to the lamps at its top. Next to it are two olive trees, one on the right side of the bowl and the other on its left.” I then asked the angel speaking with me, “What are these, my Lord?” Zechariah 4:2-4 CJB
Hallelujah, He answered! This is a 3-in-1 image, do you see? One massive olive tree, stout and immovable, with a second olive tree steadfast to the right of it, and the golden lampstand among them. They stand for Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The oil from the olive tree Father and Son’s pressed fruits pours into the Holy Spirit-lampstand, becoming light, establishing worship. What meaningful riches radiate from this poetic imagery!
Furthermore, He illuminated for me that the two olive trees picture the two-fold Words which are the essence of Jewish life and conveyed to followers of Jesus, too:
Jesus replied, “The most important one is Israel, listen! Our God is the one Lord, and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your mind, and with all your strength. Mark 12:29-30 CEB
“Sh’ma, Yisra’el! Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai echad [Hear, Isra’el! Adonai our God, Adonai is one]; and you are to love Adonai your God with all your heart, all your being and all your resources. Deuteronomy 6:4-5 CJB
One tree stands immovable as the “Shema;” the command to love the Lord stands equally stalwart as the second tree. The two trees in turn picture God the Father and Jesus the Son. The essence of worship is to move toward these two “trees,” a move picturing the Holy Spirit, to engage a 3–in–1 relationship. The move of the two faiths, Israel and Christ-followers, to converge on these two Words, the Shema and the love, is the Peace that makes us One.
That’s a lot to ponder while planting bulbs! May the Lord reveal more to you as you pray into these Words of revelation. Have a glorious New Year and I look forward to our next meeting.
Christ himself is our peace. He made both Jewish people and those who are not Jews one people. They were separated as if there were a wall between them, but Christ broke down that wall of hate by giving his own body. Ephesians 2:14 NCV
Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God on behalf of the Israelites is that they may be saved. Romans 10:1 EHV
Come, house of Jacob, let’s walk by the Lord’s light. Isaiah 2:5 CEB
Do you love connecting God’s Word to your gardening work and the trees and plants around you? You will love my new book, My Father is the Gardener, Devotions in Botany and Gardening of the Bible, order at this link.
Learn more about growing olive trees in the Plant Guide, www.gardenindelight.com/plant-guide/olive/
Read about olive trees in God’s Word for Gardeners Bible in Garden Work section on Choosing, page a-20, and in Garden Tour section on Mount of Olives, page a-18
Photo Credits: ©2022 Shelley S. Cramm potted olive tree with twinkle lights; “Potted Olive Tree” by Layla Luna, www.laylaluna.com, from My Father is the Gardener, Devotions in Botany and Gardening of the Bible ©2022 BRIT Press; © Musat Christian | Dreamstime.com Massive trunk of an olive tree
CEB notes Scripture quotations taken from the Common English Bible © 2011 Common English Bible, Nashville, Tennessee. All Rights Reserved. The CEB translation was funded by the Church Resources Development Corp, which allows for cooperation among denominational publishers in the development and distribution of Bibles, curriculum, and worship materials.
CJB notes Scripture quotations taken from the Complete Jewish Bible by David H. Stern. Copyright © 1998. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Messianic Jewish Publishers, 6120 Day Long Lane, Clarksville, MD 21029. www.messianicjewish.net.
EHV notes Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible, Evangelical Heritage Version® , EHV®, © 2019 Wartburg Project, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
NCV denotes Scripture quotations taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.