Where is Your Garden?
And the voice I hear, falling on my ear: the Son of God is calling"
(In the Garden)
Recently I listened to this old hymn by C. Austin Miles with fresh ears. As a child, my mood would turn gray and my heart would fill with sadness when singing this song. Perhaps I associated the tune with funerals for members at our small country congregation or maybe it was because we sang it slowly, with emphasis on the fermatas (held notes). Today I find the spiritually inspired hymn warmly reassuring. Reading the passage in John 20, Mr. Miles pictured Mary's encounter with her beloved friend Jesus. She had just been an eyewitness to His agonizing death on the cross. Then His burial among the olive trees in the garden, near the Kidron Valley, by Joseph and Nicodemus. "But Mary stood without at the sepulcher weeping … Jesus said to her, 'Woman, why do you weep?' … . Jesus said to her, 'Mary'. She turned herself and said to Him, 'Rabboni', which is to say, Master." (John 20:11, 15, 16)
The image made such an impression Mr. Miles penned the words to the famous song:
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing;
And the melody that He gave to me,
Within my heart is ringing."
Mary went to the garden because her heart was breaking. She thought she had lost her precious friend and teacher. However, the opposite was true; she found her Savior in the early morning hours. His whispered word, "Mary" opened her eyes and calmed her fears. When I am hurting, I go to my Garden alone and read the thoughts penned by God-inspired King David. The psalmist seems to understand my hurt. He puts into words what I am struggling to communicate. I also read the gospels, containing life-lessons from the One who can relate to my struggles better than anyone else can. Christ gives assurance that He is waiting for my arrival, preparing a special home in Heaven (John 14:1-4). The flowers I pick in the Garden vary with each circumstance. Their fragrance is calming, giving hope and assurance.
Though the night around me is falling,
But He bids me go through a voice of woe,
His voice to me is calling."
When I feel I have lost my focus or desire to serve, I ask a friend to accompany me to my Garden. This special friend may provide a needed hug or necessary chastising words. A true friend is one who is willing to confront with advice that will bring about repentance or a renewed dedication. This flower may be a rose that pricks and causes a need for healing. My Garden is not a place of residence. I do not need to linger there long, the sadness needs to turn to rejoicing (Phil. 4:4).
And He tells me I am His own
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known."
Christ has promised I will never be alone; He will be there when I call to Him in prayer (Mk 11:24). His light will guide me through the dark moments of life's temptations (Matt. 6:13, I Cor. 10:13). My heart warms as I hear Him call me His own. When He is with me who can be against me? (Romans 8:31) As I leave my Garden, Christ walks with me. Oh, the joy and peace this brings!
Christ had His Garden, going there just before He offered Himself as a sacrifice for my sins. He called on His Father to remove the trials that were intimate. His Father responded by sending angels to provide comfort (Lk. 22:41-44). Where is your Garden? How often do you meditate there? Does it strengthen you? Are you comforted knowing Jesus is walking with you? I may, "come to the Garden alone," but "He walks with me and talks with me."