Keep Your Garden Beautiful

Keeping my home clean, orderly and beautiful has always been important to me. So you can understand the struggle I have with two teen-age sons who do not share my design. I often end up distressed over their bedrooms where soiled clothing is the embellishment of choice. It was in one of those tizzies that the Lord dropped a word in my ear: “Keep your own garden beautiful!” What do you mean, Lord?

I was led to reflect on my own life as a garden. My continual griping about sloppy rooms, muddy shoes, and wolfing down meals was only spoiling the beautiful place God wanted to cultivate in my heart. I joined a garden club recently; I thought learning more about flowers and plants would be engaging. But applying horticulture to my soul and life is proving even more profitable.

The Old English word for garden is geard from which we get “yard.” It refers to an “enclosure.” So my life, my garden, is enclosed and protected by God as Solomon so exquisitely describes in his Song. God, the original master gardener, created Eden, surely unsurpassed in beauty. Even twenty generations later, when Lot chose the beautiful Jordan plain, he called it “the garden of the Lord.” So God today is creating another garden in my soul by watering it with His Word and His Holy Spirit.

In Jesus’ day, a garden was usually found close to a home. It was a sanctuary of beauty and retreat where one could meditate and pray. It was a cool, pleasant place where friends could escape the heat of the day. Sometimes banquets were served there and so it was a place of gladness and joy. A garden drew people to it just like it does today.

Dag Hammarskjöld said, “He who wants to keep his garden tidy doesn’t reserve a patch for weeds.” I began to see my negative habits as weeds in my garden. Do my husband and sons experience quiet, peace and beauty when they are around me? Is there a bench, of sorts, where they will willingly sit and converse? Or do the thorns and the weeds repulse them? Is the atmosphere pleasantly cool or stiflingly hot? (Is this why my son sometimes asks me to chill out?)

I am concerned about keeping my home orderly and beautiful. Yes, I admit I want to control my environment so I will feel peace. But now I see I must concentrate more on keeping my own inner garden beautiful, enclosing my family in love. Beautiful gardens do not grow overnight; they take years of care and devotion. With God working in me, I pray others will find in my garden the Rose of Sharon and stepping stones inscribed with these words: love, joy, peace. Keep your garden beautiful!