Devotions from My Garden: Seed Identification

The Lord answered, “I will be with you”
Judges 6:16a

She stands under 3 feet tall, this baby girl of mine.  With one hand tossed up to her hip, she stomps her feet on the ground twice, three times perhaps for emphasis, and screams, “Never Again!!!” in a voice that commands attention, if not respect.  If she’s really upset, she might even engage in some finger wagging.

My husband and I stifle grins at the sight of her: two years old and she could command an army.

When she was born, my mother-in-law was away on a missions trip to an Indian reservation out in the Dakotas.  We made the call announcing our youngest daughter’s birth just in time to reach Grammy before she left for her missions work that day.

As any proud Grammy would, she shared the news with her roommate that baby Catherine had arrived.

Hearing the name we’d given our daughter, the woman declared, “Oh, a woman of authority.”

It’s something I’ve pondered as I watched my baby–so assured of her own mind—turn into a toddler—set on sharing her mind. I can see the hints of leadership, yes, even authority crammed into the body and soul of a toddler.  Tucking away memories, impressions, and glimpses at her developing character, I feel a little like Jesus’ momma, Mary, who treasured things up in her heart.

My Catherine reminds me so often of the seeds we planted in pots on our deck this year.  They appear so small and yet inside an explosive force lies dormant, ready to break out of its shell and grow and grow and grow . . . and hopefully produce much fruit.

Holding that ordinary seed in our hands, we can’t begin to imagine the potential for beauty and nourishment within once it receives proper care and tending.  The only hint we have of the future is the picture on the package and sometimes even then we’re surprised.

When we planted this year, we set aside one long planter for carrots and excitedly covered over about 20 seeds with 1/4 inch of dirt.  Within a few days, shoots of green appeared, but strangely enough, they didn’t look like carrots.  In fact, they looked identical to the radish sprouts now growing up in other pots.

I think perhaps my daughters got a little ambitious with the radish seeds and planted them in places I didn’t expect.

Sometimes we look at people or ourselves and see plain, brown, ordinary, small, and insignificant specks.  Mystery seeds.  If we’re particularly imaginative, we might even think we see the potential for carrots, only to learn later that God really designed us to be radishes.  Surprise!

Ultimately, God sees what we cannot.  He recognizes all our potential for growth.  He sees beyond our insufficiency and the trappings of our untrained immaturity and chooses circumstances, people, and training that will nurture, prune, and tend us into fruitful vines.

This is what God did for Gideon.  In a time when the nation of Israel was oppressed by the Midianites and foundering without a king or judge to lead them, God raised up a teenager to save his people.

Scripture tells us:

The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior. ”  (Judges 6:11-12).

Mighty Warrior?  Who could the Lord be talking about?  Surely not this youth doing chores for his dad!  We read later that Gideon destroyed his dad’s altars to the false gods, Baal and Asherah, so Gideon wasn’t even a child of a faithful and righteous man.

Even Gideon thought God meant someone else, answering, “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family”  (Judges 6:15).

He said, “I’m a nobody from a nothing family.  I’m no Mighty Warrior.  You’ve got the wrong guy.”

We may think he was right as Gideon puts God to the test repeatedly, asking for signs and reassurances of God’s command (Judges 6).  Then on the eve of the battle, Gideon still feels afraid and God offers him further comfort and confirmation by allowing Gideon to overhear the enemy and how assured they were of defeat (Judges 7).

In fact, even when the battle is over, won with only 300 Israelite soldiers against an overwhelming Midianite army, it still seems odd that God could call Gideon “Mighty Warrior.”   After all, there’s no question at all who was the Mighty One.  The battle was the Lord’s; Gideon was just yielded and usable.

The truth for Gideon and the truth for us is that God looks at us and sees beyond all of our failings and fears.  Not only that, but He’s also not limited by our skills and talents.  He doesn’t see the potential of what we can do on our own; He sees the potential of who we are with Him.

With God, Gideon was indeed a mighty warrior.  That’s why when Gideon asked how any of this would be possible, “The Lord answered, ‘I will be with you” (Judges 6:16).

That is the promise He has for us–His presence, His help, His guidance, His reassurance when we are afraid.  All He requires from us is trusting obedience and the willingness to embrace His plans and His designs for our future.

More Devotions From My Garden:

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

One Minute Devotional – Devotions From My Garden: Invasion

It’s an invasion and I knew it was coming.

About three weeks ago, one lone pioneer ant bravely marched across my kitchen counter.  I squashed him, even though I knew it wouldn’t do any good.  He was a scout, a forerunner of things to come.  His presence there meant many more ants were on their way . . . soon.

Slowly, they’ve arrived.  An ant on the windowsill.  Another on the computer desk.  My baby giggled and waved at an ant adventuring across the bathroom floor.  Then several more trekked across the kitchen counters.

Last night, the official invasion party arrived.  Now there is a steady stream of ants climbing on, of all things, my beloved books.  They’ve created their own ant superhighway, running up and down my bookshelf in regular battle formation.

As I weeded and turned over rocks in my garden last week, I discovered their mega-city.  It’s located in the entirety of the garden beds around the perimeter of my home and its capital is the dead tree stump in my front yard.  They’ve taken over my gardens completely.

These ants are the pesky annoyances of my every spring and summer.  They make my skin creep and crawl and they are my obsession as I battle over dominion with them year after year.

But, what if my life were invaded in this same way not by a pest or bother, but by God Himself?  What if every rock you overturned in my life revealed God?  What if every room you entered in my heart showed His presence?

When the angel announced to Mary that she would conceive a son, the Savior of the world, he promised: “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you” (Luke 1:35).

In her study Jesus: The One and Only, Beth Moore notes that the translation for “come upon you” is “arrive, invade, rest upon, and operate in a person.”

Oh, if only God would do this in us—arrive in us, invade us, rest upon us and operate in our lives!

The group Watermark sang a song called “Invade” that said:

Come, come in
Invade all You see of us
Any man, who’d walk Your road is welcomed here
And You’re the only one

Jesus, come and walk the halls of this house
Tread this place and turn it inside out
With Your mercy…
Jesus, teach us the prayers that open these doors
Until Your light floods in and illuminates these floors
And let Your truth be on our steps and in these rooms
Jesus invade…

Reach, reach in
With the hand that heals all our suffering
Conquer all that is not of You
Bring Your spirit through
As we fill these walls with Your praise

It’s time to pray for an invasion, asking that the Holy Spirit take over our lives.  Let Him conquer everything that is not of God and fill us completely with God’s presence and all that brings Him praise.

More Devotions From My Garden:

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

One Minute Devotional – Devotions From My Garden: Underneath the Dirt

I cleaned out my garden last week, clawing at the dirt to extricate the weeds, moving plants around, and spreading mulch.

It turns out that the miniature roses that I thought would stay, well, miniature, grew far larger than I ever expected.  They are dwarfing all of the plants behind them.  After years of watching these rose bushes grow exponentially each season, I’ve finally realized that “miniature” just means the size of the bud—not the size of the bush.

So, I finally broke down and moved one of the rose bushes to the back of the garden where it didn’t look like anything was growing.  But it’s March and many of my perennials and summer bulbs haven’t poked their heads above ground yet.

Sure enough, I pushed my trowel into the dirt only to overturn a bulb.

I guess something was growing there after all.

In the garden and in life, it’s so often the hidden things we can’t see that produce the life we do see.

In his devotional book A Year With Jesus, Eugene Peterson wrote: “Jesus’ work was not always public, out where people could see it.  There were also quiet interludes of retirement and rest.  The quiet asides are as characteristic of his ministry as the glorious signs.”

Jesus not only valued the moments of solitude and quiet, but He also called His disciples away when they were weary from service:

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest
(Mark 6:31 NIV).

What is “characteristic” of God’s work in you?  Is it just the visible that matters?  Is it the Sunday masquerade or the busyness of church life?  Is it committee meetings, ministry sign-ups, the quantifiable and the identifiable?

Don’t mistake this.  We are to serve God where He has called us to serve.  We shouldn’t linger on the pew when He’s asked us to step out and get busy.  Be assured that He will equip you and strengthen you when you act in obedience.

But don’t scorn the quiet, hidden work of God, either.  Don’t get so wrapped up in doing that you fail at being at the feet of God.  The Master Gardener may be growing something great in you just beneath the soil, something beautiful that you haven’t yet seen.  And it begins with you sitting before an open Bible, with your prayers laid down at His feet, with your songs of praise during the morning commute.  It begins in the hidden places alone with Him.

More Devotions From My Garden:

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King