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In the Garden (Part 2)

Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer awaits the precious fruit of the soil—how patient he is for the fall and spring rains. You, too, be patient and strengthen your hearts, because the Lord’s coming is near. ~James 5:7-8

I had an experience in the garden a couple years ago that stands out and was made to share. It was early summer and it was a few months following the passing of my dear brother-in-law, Mike. Mike, with a heart full of love and a tender, sweet spirit left a huge hole in the hearts of us all after his passing.

I was out in my garden with a heart full of ache. I was digging and pulling up weeds in an area where I had planted potato seeds a few weeks prior. These were not any ordinary potato seeds, they had quite a story to go with them. A story of a mighty God who stooped low and touched a heart engulfed in grief with His tender love.

Here is the story...

It was winter. We were in the final days of Mike's life. A life so full of purpose and plans until it was suddenly struck down with disease. The shock, the denial, and grief completely engulfed us all as his final days on earth drew near. How could this be happening? It all came so fast. We were not ready to let him go, but it was his time and we had no say in the matter. Nancy, my sister and Mike's wife, began to see hearts everywhere. It started with a red heart in a brick in the chapel wall where she prayed. So tiny, so perfect and right at eye level. How did she happen to see it? Next, a heart shaped potato chip in her chip bag as she sat at his bedside. These heart shaped moments just kept coming and they have never stopped since.

You know it when God winks and says, "This is for you. I want you to know that I am here and that this is to show you that I have not left you and I never will."

There are books written about these God wink moments.

So that is what these were, moments of a mighty God swooping in with a rush of sweet comfort to lift our grief-weary souls. I was standing in my kitchen making dinner when I experienced my first heart shaped God wink. The date was February 20, 2019. It also happened to be my parents anniversary date. A bag of russet potatoes lay open on the kitchen counter. I reached in and grabbed one to start chopping and to my surprise, out came a huge heart shaped potato! Shock. Surprise. And then, a rush of peace.

How could a God so big, so mighty, and so powerful take the time to put this into my hands at just this moment? How could He love me like this? I have no answer. Only this....

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? ~Romans 8:32

Now, fast forward to spring in the garden. I had taken that heart shape potato and cut it up to make it into potato seeds. My heart was full of hope of what would happen once these seeds were buried in the ground covered in darkness. I was excited to see new life burst out in shades of green and I imagined an abundance of russets to come. But, the life never came. They did not sprout. Only weeds came up and filled in all the dark soil where I had once hoped that new life would appear. It hurt. My heart hurt and I was so disappointed. I was doubting God's power in this moment as I furiously dug up all those weeds that came instead. As I dug, I hit a small stone. I could see that it was white under the layers of muddy dirt that stuck all over it. I felt a prompting..."Rub off all that dirt and look at the stone." I resisted. I reasoned that I needed to keep digging weeds. I did not have time and there were a lot of weeds to pull. I felt the prompting again. I relinquished this time and rubbed the dirt off. And there it was, beneath a few layers of dirt, a beautiful white, heart shaped rock!

Here it is...

I have been collecting heart shaped rocks for years and never stumbled on a rock like this. Peace swept over me like a rushing wind; next goose bumps, and then a whisper to my heart that said, "Heaven is not far." Joy...pure joy filled my heart as tears rolled down my cheeks, just as they do now as I write and relive this moment. How could I ever, for one moment, doubt God's love and power? Once again, how could a God so big, so mighty, and so powerful take the time to put this into my hands at just this moment? How could He love me like this? No answer, only joy. Instead of giving me potatoes that would last but a season, He gave me a rock that will last forever.

This moment changed me. It was a turning point and a stake in the ground moment. This is what spilled from my pen and landed in my journal to mark that moment...

Life is different now. My eyes see past this world. I see each day as precious. Each moment, each breath, my eyes search for hints of heaven. I look up more. I seek God with a new intensity. My longing for the things of this earth lessens as my longing for heaven increases. We are here on a journey, a journey to get home.

Surrender. Surrender your grip. Surrender your will to the Master. Live for His glory and do what he asks.

Die to self. Die to the desires and cravings that come from the earthly cloak you wear.

Breathe in His goodness and breathe out His love. Life is different now.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. ~Colossians 3:1-4

God's love is no different for you, my friend. He loves you and pursues you everyday. Are you slowing down and living quiet enough to hear Him?

Make some time to bask in His love and let His tender mercy fall on you with an everlasting grace. Be held. Be loved and be still for a moment and let the words of this song called, How You Love Me by Patrick Mayberry, wash His love over you today.... But first, pray with me...

Heavenly Father, Oh how you love us! Your love is beyond our understanding. Thank you. We know that we don't deserve it, yet You lavish us in it daily. Draw near to us today as we anxiously await Your coming. We know that it is soon. Your kingdom come; the kingdom that we are made for. While we wait, help us to be patient and strengthen our hearts. Fill our days with purpose and a passion to do Your work. As the world crumbles around us, we trust that You will provide for us and that You will hold us. We were made for such a time as this. Give us fresh courage, wisdom and strength each day. Cover us in Your armor and help us to fight off our enemy as he is filling the earth with chaos and lies. Reveal Your truth to us and keep us on the path of righteousness for Your name's sake. In Jesus Name, Amen

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