The air was fragrant and warm as I stood outside in the garden. I looked around and could see God’s handiwork looking back at me in every direction.
To one side of the garden lay a dense tangle of a bush. Thick with thorns and foliage. Almost strangling itself with it’s own complex network of roots, branches and weeds. My job today was to cut this bad boy down. I stood close and it was easily 6 or 7 feet tall and as wide as a small van. Somewhere in this devastation was a live and beautiful bush. All I had to do was free it!
At that moment God showed me something.
The bush was once healthy and alive. But, now, it’s life had almost been strangled out of existence. It was penetrated on all sides by giant thorns, weeds, and thistles which encroached to suffocate it. It couldn’t grow, it couldn’t see the light, and without care and attention from the gardener…it would die.
The gardener arrives.
He sees what a mangled mess the bush is in and examines it carefully. Instead of getting an axe to start chopping it down (which would have been an option for any other gardener) he picks up a small set of pruners.
The gardener begins to very carefully snip and clip the weeds and drops them to the ground where they can do no harm.
He is careful to protect the bush hidden inside this tangled mess. Whenever he spots green foliage belonging to the bush, he tenderly caresses the leaves and trims away the weeds and dross surrounding it so one more part is freed.
The gardener works for a very long time. Only cutting and snipping away at the mass when it is safe to do so without damaging the bush contained within.
His hand is always gentle and considerate, giving the greatest care to protect what is his.
I see the gardeners hands…they are shredded and bleeding from being ripped at by the giant thorns. My memory is suddenly pricked. I remember another who bled for me. He knows the searing pain of thorns being driven into flesh. The thorns were made into a crown of mockery and driven deep into his skull!
The gardener is still working tirelessly. Cutting back and destroying everything that is broken, withered and ugly. Even a few parts of the bush had to be destroyed. He was making room for something new to grow. Eventually, he reached the very heart of the bush.
After cutting back all the death and decay something was being revealed.
The last of the thorns had completely enveloped this precious thing at the centre of the bush.
Beneath this ugly mass was a nest and in the nest lay a single egg.
God spoke to me so clearly that day.
The egg had been planted in me many years before and laid in the nest, which would protect it against any enemy. God had cleared away the debris of my life so that the new life within me could be born and flourish. When the egg hatched, He would send little birds of hope and faith to nourish it in infancy.
Once more mature, the young bird would eventually leave the confines of the bush and fly free, being carried by the wind beneath its wings.
This was what happened to my spirit.
It had been crushed and strangled almost out of existence. But God, the gardener, had a plan.
Even before I knew, He had placed His life inside me. And, when the time was right, He would work on me day and night to restore what had been almost strangled out of existence.
He would send me help, hope, and faith to guide and nurture me.
Eventually, the very breath of God would cause my spirit to soar.
God has not forgotten you.