Looking back at that first garden, I have to smile. Those pictures remind me of how small we were when we started. Since then, the garden has quadrupled in size with hopes of more to come. Thinking back on it now, it makes all those fears seem ridiculous. Isn’t that the way it is?
It wasn’t too long after the fence was complete and the new plants were in that I found myself drawn to the garden in the evening. It wasn’t to work but to enjoy. I was struck with a sense of wonder. With each passing day, I looked forward to these nightly strolls. They brought peace and solitude to my soul. The coolness of evening would wash over me as the sun gave a vibrant and glorious performance, disappearing beneath the horizon. Across the fields, the lightening bugs would dance like diamonds sparkling in the night. And these precious plants I had put into the ground by hand seemed to be reaching up into the sky as if to praise their creator. It was all so… magical. There were no other words to describe this experience other than pure Joy.
There was one night in particular, I will always remember. The night’s sky was especially beautiful. Beauty like this has a way to move one’s heart and fill it with gratitude. I looked down at the carrot tops and bent down to examine them. They were a few weeks old; so small and soft to the touch. In that moment, I whispered encouragement to them. My hope was that they would thrive and become everything they designed to be. Suddenly, I heard God whisper to my heart: “This is what I like best too.” With it came a passage from Genesis: “And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day… (Gen 3:8).” I wasn’t expecting it. He just showed up! Eager to hear more, I asked what He meant. “Aimee, I love my creation. I love watching it grow and become all it was designed to be. Why do you think you enjoy this? Why do you come here in the cool of the day? Because I love it! Don’t forget, you were designed in my image. Do you know that I love watching you grow and become everything you were designed to be? Aimee, your heart is my garden and I delight in you!” The only response I could offer were my tears.
It wasn’t the last time God spoke in the garden. Over time, it became apparent that God was using this quiet place for me to meet with Him. These encounters were never the same. Sometimes, I would simply offer thanks to Him for His provisions that day. Other times, I would use the time to pray for those I cared about most. I treasured the times God encouraged me as a Father would. But the most incredible moments came when He taught me about the Kingdom of God.
Not too long ago, I had been in the garden pruning back some of the tomato plants when He interrupted my thoughts again: “Aimee, how often do you seed?” I was taken off guard. “Uh…I suppose a few hours during the season? I’m not sure…. But not long.” He waited a while before continuing. (In case you haven’t figured it out yet – God’s not usually in a hurry.) “Aimee, how much time do you spend harvesting?” I thought about it for a moment. “Longer. I would guess several hours over the course of a few weeks. It depends on the plant. Definitely longer then seeding.” Again, He waited. I grew curious. Where was He going with this? Finally He asked, “And, what about cultivating and tending to the plants and the garden? How much time do you spend doing that?” In that moment, I became overwhelmed attempting to take inventory of the time it took. It was daily. Countless tasks and countless hours. The truth was, if I left the garden unattended to for more than a few days, it would become a mess! His response touched me to the core: “Then why does my church spend so much time focused on seeding and harvesting and so little time cultivating the soil of their heart?” I was speechless. “Aimee, this is what I want you to write about. These are the lessons I have and will teach you. I want you to share them.”
And with that, I started writing. I’ve spent several months writing and rewriting, wrestling with concepts, and allowing God to speak to my heart and calm my fears. It became apparent that God wouldn’t let this go. He wanted me to take a step of faith and trust Him. So here I am, fully aware of my shortcomings as a writer and a gardener. I can say with confidence, I am still learning. Despite it all, I have chosen to walk with God in this and take a risk. So if anyone wants to follow this crazy journey, you are more than welcome to come along.
Here we go….