Daily Devotionals

Our Father, the Garden Tender

Daniel Bramlett

I love songs about rescue! I’ve sung a few in my lifetime. I remember a couple times walking out of the woods at dark, a few times being young and alone in the house, even once in a store and thinking my parents left me! Each time I panicked, the Lord met me and picked me up. I remember the scary feeling of being watched and threatened by the enemy and the sudden calm that overtook me as I cried out to the Lord. A song as simple as “Jesus help me!” suffices.

Isaiah packs chapters 24-27 in his book with songs of rescue and praise. Each of these have captured me over the last few days, but it was the beginning of 27 that grabbed my heart this morning. It’s too sweet for me to just refer to it. We need to hear it. Listen to this, “On that day, a pleasant vineyard, sing about it! I, the Lord, watch over it; I water it regularly. I guard it night and day so that no one disturbs it. I am not angry, but if it produces thorns and briers for Me, I will fight against it, trample it, and burn it to the ground. Or let it take hold of My strength; let it make peace with Me— make peace with Me. In days to come, Jacob will take root. Israel will blossom and bloom and fill the whole world with fruit.”

That may not mean too much to you on the first reading, but let’s unpack it. My daughter Ella and I are learning how to unpack a passage of Scripture. There is nothing else like it! You read the verse(s), then read around them. Then look for places in the Word that might help explain these verses. You ask questions like “What does this teach me about God or myself? Are there any commands to be obeyed here? What does God want me to do with this?” Mining Scripture is hard AND fun work!

This song from the Lord begins at the end. The enemy has been taken down. He’s no longer threatening anyone. Once that task is completed, anyone who seeks Him can come into the garden of the Lord and its boundaries will reach around the globe. The garden will be kept by God Himself. No outside threats will be allowed. No sin will enter there, only the fruit produced by His carefully tended vines. Any sin will be promptly and sufficiently dealt with, to the point of fire. The result of a garden like this is the vines will “take hold of God’s strength.” They will find their peace in Him. There will be no more need for fighting, for resisting Him. There will be nothing but peace between those who seek Him and their Maker. In those days the entire world will be “filled with fruit.”

I long for those days! I long for the day when we have no more distractions; for the day when Jesus comes back and we can be face to face with Him without any intervening briars. But that day is not yet here and that is by design. God, even now, is dealing with my briers and thorns, but only at my request. I have to learn to submit to the good Gardener when my life is overrun with weeds. I don’t realize it, but the absence of His work in me produces resistance; it invites rebellion. The longer I go apart from Him, the more I will fight against His purposes for me. But when I surrender, the fire hurts, but the result is beautiful. Peace is the place the Gardner takes me. It is a place that can be accessed only by Him. I can’t go there on my own. I must be invited, but He promises to invite!

I couldn’t help but think about John 15 as I read these words in Isaiah. The good Gardner is seen tending the vines here, too. He prunes and burns the branches in Him that bear no fruit. This hurts, but it’s healthy! I don’t always relish the thought of loosing an appendage, especially one that I love and have taken care of for years. But if it is harming me, it needs to go. I need new eyes to see the Kingdom, new ears to hear the voice of the Spirit, restored taste to enjoy His righteousness, touch that is sensitive to His work around me and a nose that can recognize danger instead of ignoring it. God make me ok with removing the bad and replacing it with your good!

The beauty of the Garden is restoration. We are being made into what we were originally designed to be. This gives us the ability to obey God and ultimately to walk the road of suffering and death for His glory and the good of those we (and He!) loves.

Do you need rescue? Are you singing about it in the back of your mind? Do your ears perk up when a song about rescue comes on the radio? Does your mind go back to simpler days when your heart wasn’t as cluttered with briers and thorns? Ask the Gardner today to begin the pruning process. I promise peace will come, almost immediately. I can also promise that God will keep His Word. He will keep tending you, guarding you, until the enemy is defeated and the whole world has heard the news of His invitation to the Garden.

Let Him start cleaning. You’ll be happy you did.

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