Happy New Year! This optimistic, decree-in-a-greeting is surely grounded in the goodness of God and His unstoppable goading to keep our focus on Him. He is the One who has written the way forward, our Author and Perfecter. To Him we can confidently lift our eyes and expect happy, hopeful outcomes, revealed in Scriptures such as these:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
We look away from the natural realm and we focus our attention and expectation onto Jesus who birthed faith within us and who leads us forward into faith’s perfection. Hebrews 12:2 TPT
In the uncertain times that we face, we are wise to carry such enduring Words with us always—on a notecard in our pocket, on a charm bracelet or ball cap—for we are blasted by storms, fear, and doubt wherever we look or listen. However, your garden is already keeping this truth for you! It is? Yes, dear gardeners, tucked discreetly in this pruning promise:
Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always continue in the fear of the Lord. Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off. Proverbs 23:17-18 NRSV
Hope will never be trimmed from those who treat the Lord with awe, which is to say, never pruned—see a gardener’s promise! Many things have and may continue to be cut back in our lives (the coronavirus appears relentless in this way…) but hope will never be cut off from God-revering hearts.
Like a gardener who cuts off branches for the hope of better formed, more productive trees, shrubs, and flowering bushes, this Word reminds us that hope itself will never be pruned. Gardeners cut off with hope, not to remove hope. May we be reminded every time we take up pruners, lopers, or hedge shears that hope and a good future are ours from our Gardener-God.
Wait, Israel, for God. Wait with hope. Hope now; hope always! Psalm 131:3 The Message
Moses’ faith is a particular inspiration in proceeding with hopeful focus, revealed in the moving Words describing his faith:
[Moshe/Moses] had come to regard abuse suffered on behalf of the Messiah as greater riches than the treasures of Egypt, for he kept his eyes fixed on the reward. By trusting, he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered as one who sees the unseen. Hebrews 11:26-27 CJB
Remember the rough start Moses had, born with a death threat on his infant life, separated from his family and adopted, defender of his people yet personally accused. Growing up into his ultimate calling as Israel’s faithful prophet-leader, he overcame fear and doubt, obstacles and emotional outbursts to know God face to face (Deuteronomy 34:10). As The Message translates, “He had his eye on the One no eye can see and kept right on going” (Hebrews 11:28).
Read this week’s parashat, or portion of Torah, Exodus 1:1 – 6:1, and realize the struggles Moses endured to emerge with the voice of God. See the many similarities between his story and the state of things now, wow!
My Word for 2022? Focus. Moses’ faith reflected a steadfast gaze on God, enabling him to move forward through challenges and a cacophony of complaint. We face similar chaotic distractions as Christ followers entering 2022 and our call is likewise: Forge ahead in the ministries before us and claim our territory of influence for the Holy One.
Happy Old Year
Find refreshment for the way forward in the Devotions Blog from this year, maybe you missed a few? Reconnect to all kinds of ways, from featured plants to garden visits, that nurture the pursuit of the Lord in the landscape and keep you focused on Him.
Garden Design: Growing Barley’s Mystery, The Bible’s Red, White, and Blue, Fill the World with Fennel, The 7 Species: A Garden-to-Table Guide, Winter’s White Flowers, Evergreen Peace in Potted Olive Trees
Garden Prayers: Parable of the Sower Revival Prayer Guide
Lenten Series: Find Garden Hope
Book Reviews: The First-Time Gardener by Sean and Allison McManus
New Plants to the Plant Guide: Barley
In addition, the Garden in Delight seasonal Newsletter enjoyed its second year, 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.
New Year’s Focus
Big plans are coming to fruition for 2022! My new book, My Father is the Gardener, should be released this year (Lord willing!). Thank you for waiting patiently with me; this happy old year was filled with wonderful book design work, collaborating with BRIT Press’ finest! Designer, photographer, and artist came together to focus on illustrations that bring God’s Word to garden life. A special donor moved forward to support the cost of printing, hallelujah! What a joy to create a new collection of Biblical plant paintings for a new generation. Read more about the book here and watch for more news in the upcoming Winter Newsletter. We would love your prayers through the winter as we make final preparations for the manuscript and welcome any additional financial contributions to help increase the number of books printed.
In the meantime, have a cozy January and join me putting things in order indoors! Garden in Delight retreats for the month of January, returning in February’s Winter Newsletter with spring plans. Until then, check in on my Instagram page @shelleycramm for snapshots of #Godswordforgardeners.
H A P P Y N E W Y E A R!
©BRIT Press “Pruners” by Layla Luna, learn more about our Fort Worth artist at www.laylaluna.com
For the schedule of the parashat readings, click this link to Etz-Hayim lectionary
Photo Credits: ©2021 Shelley S. Cramm Top photo – View down the path through the olive grove at Descanso Gardens in La Canada Flintridge, CA. While the foreground of the picture seems foreboding, the path is lit with sunlight ahead….how did this picture snapped in October turn out to be such a focused metaphor for the start of this New Year?! Read more about this garden visit in the Fall Newsletter.
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.
MSG denotes Scripture quotations taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries.
NIV denotes Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.®
NRSV denotes Scripture quotations taken from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
TPT denotes Scripture quotations taken from The Passion Translation®. Copyright © 2017, 2018 by Passion & Fire Ministries, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ThePassionTranslation.com