I visited my garden the other day, feeling a little bit like a failure. In a season that should be abounding, I could barely find anything that hadn’t been eaten up by bugs or killed off by choking weeds. Now the fact is, I have been very busy with a new adventure. So it’s been almost impossible to tend the garden this summer, let alone write much or do some of the other things I used to do.
Understandably seasons come and go. But today I was feeling the deterioration of the garden in a new way. It felt like a sign of things going on around me, and in me, and of the war that we are in. Like weeds, there seems to be a constant assailment against the beauty and increase of our Lord and Savior in our heart, in our relationships, and finally (through them) in the world at large.
I noticed something, however. Along the garden edge there was a red raspberries bush laden with the biggest, ripest berries I ever did see! Red raspberries are my absolute favorite, and it is unusual to see them so late in the season, let alone so huge! Now I always find it interesting when I am suddenly aware of my thoughts. Because right when I picked them I heard myself say, “I don’t deserve these. I should give them to someone else!”
Then immediately in response, “They are for you. Eat and enjoy. It’s My gift.”
I was overcome with a sense of the Lord’s grace. Here was something I didn’t plant that grew on it’s own and was flourishing. In fact, raspberries have thorns on it, which I know from the Bible is a picture of death and the consequences of sin. But from this thorny wild plant was fruit for me! Free of my having to labor for it. Free from any strings. Free of anything but pure, accepting love being given by my Creator as a gift, to me, who felt at that moment so undeserving.
Take, eat, this is my body, given freely and unreservedly for you. Jesus, Matthew 26:26
I planted a garden, and now at the season when the harvest should be overflowing, there is only lackluster or damaged fruit remaining. But what is my hope? That always in God, mercy triumphs over judgment. That always in God, life springs forth from death. And that always, grace is never deserved – it is received.
Please grab hold of His amazing gift of love and forgiveness, and eat of it today. Then give it back out in relationships in the same way that it was given to you. Everything that we planted and labored for in this world will eventually fail. But the mercy of the Lord Jesus in us and through us? It is the only thing that will endure forever.