Any gardener will tell you that an untended garden is full of many things that will choke the life out of the plants that were meant to grow there. Even though the weeds were not a part of the initial plan, they somehow appear right next to the tender shoots of green that push their way through the cultivated soil taking in the rich oxygen laden air and drinking up the settled morning dew. The weeds sometimes look enough like the plants themselves that it is hard to tell the difference, but a master gardener, a seasoned green thumb, knows what to expect.
A Master Gardener has already seen the harvest before putting the seeds into the soil, understanding all the work required before the bud forms on the stem fed by the sun and the soil and the dew. Commitment is a part of the planning, aware of toil necessary to see the full potential each cycle of planting and reaping and harvesting is full of, the one who tends a garden diligently also plans for its success.
Remember that God is cultivating a heart of beauty of the abundance of our heart so that we can spill forward into the lives of others. The focus of cultivation is preparing the soil for the living seed. The purpose of tending is to make sure that seed has the best conditions possible to grow and be healthy. It takes work and effort to ensure the expected harvest will be a reality but it is always worth it.
You are being forged by the sanctifying work of His perfecting. You are being molded so that you will be strong enough to withstand the storms, drought, and trials of this life. Because He has taken time to work His grace into your heart, there is always an expected outcome. Because God is the one planting the seed, we can be certain a fruitful harvest will come.
The tending is the work that is often most time-intensive process. It takes a committed soul to follow through with the in-between work of a garden. It is the in-between stage that makes it hard to keep faithful. We can’t see what is going on beneath the soil, so we grow impatient. We may not be able to discern the good and the bad as the plants start to emerge and we wrestle with what to pull and what to keep.
But God… He doesn’t have this dilemma.
He knows what you were made for…because His purpose for you is to prosper.(Jer 29:11)
He knows how you are meant to bloom…because He has given you talents and skills. (Matt 25)
He knows the embroidery that adorns your soul…. because He put it there. (Ps 139)
God is able to identify the weeds and the thorns that keep us from producing abundantly in our lives. Many times He convicts us, revealing those hidden things that are stealing the nutrients meant to make the plant healthy. As He cultivates our hearts, they become apparent and need to be removed. Sometimes it hurts but that is a part of the redeeming process. In His mercy He gently performs heart surgery and sets us on the path to healing.
A call to faithfulness…
As a prophet, Isaiah’s message was speaking towards the future about the returning small remnant of Israel from Babylon and subsequently to the inclusion of the gentiles. Here we see the way God was going to multiply the church through the death and resurrection of Christ, the preaching of the gospel when the early church began to spread.
This chapter of Isaiah is a faith chapter. It is a challenge to trust God as our rescuer, redeemer and restorer. The 1st 4 verses point to God as the one who rescues us from our hopeless and barren situations. He is the Father who reaches in and pull us out of the pit, He ministers to the broken places, and in His mercy provides both cleansing and salvation.
God’s Covenant is one of Merciful Redemption.
The second section of this chapter is an overflow of the 1st 4 verses. Repetition is one of the amazing things about God’s Word, because verses 5-10 substantiate the pattern that was started in verses 1-4 and establish the credibility of both the commands and the promises. Ultimately the redeeming nature of God is revealed throughout. His Word continually testifies of its validity through repetition.
Chapter 54 is a lyrical poem which uses multiple rhetorical devices to communicate the character of God like: imagery, parallelism, and symbolism. The references also testify, like the repetition, to the context and meaning of the message. For example, when Isaiah refers to God as the LORD of Hosts, it is an implication of the sole authority and power inherent in our masterfully creative God.
- Husband is parallel to redeemer.
- Maker is parallel to the Holy One of Israel.
- Lord of Hosts is parallel to the God of all the Earth.
The Covenant of Eternal Love between the Father and the redeemed is unbreakable.
The theme of section 2 is ‘hesed olam‘, the hebrew word for eternal covenant.
Think of marriage vows, binding and lasting…unto death. This relationship with the redeemer of your heart is even stronger , it is a bond that even death does not separate. Unlike the natural world, the covenant between Christ and His bride is eternal and gives exceeding credibility to the fruitfulness we can expect as we commune with the Holy One. Where the Lord promises to redeem, He also restores. The book of Hosea reminds us of God’s redeeming pursuit of our wayward hearts.
And I will betroth you to me forever, yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy. – Hosea 2:19
The Father delights in His beloved, those whom He calls His own. He seals the covenant He makes with the mark of redemption on our soul. Marriage is a perfect example of God’s desire to woo and win our heart. Similarly, as Christ cherishes the bride that He came to redeem we are reminded that His ways are higher than ours. Because of that we can see how He can be the husband to the wife that needs reassurance, to the widow that needs encouragement, to the single woman who needs hope, and to the child who needs protection.
God knows the heart of a woman. He offers an open door for the soul-deep relationship with each of us through His mercy and kindness and grace. He looks past our shame to our heart. He sees the beauty of who we are because He sees clearly who we are meant to be, and because of that he meets us where we are. Every. Single. Time.
Do need redemption in an area of your life today?
He is able to redeem the shame, loss, hopelessness, or whatever it is in your yesterday or today. What is holding you back from being cultivated? What is keeping you from being open to the tending of your soul ?
Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not yet seen. Without faith it is impossible to please God and those that come to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. – Hebrews 11:1,6
Those who feel forsaken are Remembered by God.
These words in Isaiah remind us that even when we feel forsaken, we are completely remembered by God.
- He calls us. As our redeemer, he stands in the gap to meet all our needs. (vs 5-6)
- He comforts us. In the moments of lack and desperation, God tenderly cares for our needs. (vs 7-8)
- He completes us. Even when we feel forsaken, rebuked or shaken, His compassion will never be removed from you. ( vs 9-10)
In this passage there are 2 words in verse 7 that will help us understand the context and ultimately reveal God’s message for your heart: forsaken and great mercies.
The word forsaken is used in the present tense, describing how we ‘feel’ now. While the words great mercies are used in the future tense. The contrast shows us that our present situation is momentary, not eternal but temporal. However, the future points to resurrection life, which is eternal and everlasting.
When we feel forsaken, we can remember that it is but for a moment, but the compassion of God is an everlasting covenant of grace and mercy.
This eternal covenant, the ‘hesed olam’, is the most revealing part of this message. Christ’s sacrifice was the full redemption for the chasm that separates man from God. It fixed the gulf. The moments we feel forsaken are like the river that carries us into the deep and wide see of his grace and deliverance.
God Redeems our hearts to Himself
As He intimately knows our heart, because He formed it, woven with a purpose in mind, then he can adequately meet all our emotional needs in ways no one else can. To be honest, woman of God, no one else is equipped to fulfill that role. Only God is supposed to meet our needs fully. If our lives were perfect and the people in them were perfect we may not realize our need for a savior.
Sometimes God’s quiet response feels like he has forgotten, or even forsaken us.
He is fully at work in our lives. His mercy comes like a flood of deliverance in our desperate situations. (Lam 3:23)
He is our comfort. His kindness endures , through our trials, faith grows. ( Ps 89:28)
He has made a covenant. He alone provides the sustenance our hearts need. (Phil 4:19)
“The Bible, especially the book of Isaiah, presents God as a God of promises, one who commits himself fin a future yet unknown for the sake of purpose yet to be achieved, but inherent in the very nature of the world He has created. … There is no discontinuity between the God f Noah and the God of today. Just as His compassion prevented Him from destroying the world with a flood, so did his compassion bind him to the same acts in the future.” -James Oswalt
As you take time to study Isaiah 54, let God’s redemption wash away all the doubt and unbelief that has held you back from experiencing His amazing grace today.
The Heart of the Woman Series is a Bible Study for each and every one of us. Join me in March as I revisit this chapter of Isaiah once a week on Saturday, and feel free to join me to discuss what we are reading through the week, along with a schedule and worksheets at the Table of Grace FB Group.
You can find previous posts here: When our heart is the Garden of God; When We choose to hope
Moments of Hope, #DreamTogether, Unite, Cheerleaders of Faith, Tell His Story, Coffee For Your Heart, Three Word Wednesday, Writer Wednesday, Thought Provoking Thursday, Grace n Truth, #Chasing Community, Fresh Market Friday, Faith n Friends Blog Hop, Missional Women, Dance with Jesus, Glimpses with Barbie,
With a Nor’easter on it’s way up the coast, these words about gardening are good for my soul, but especially thankful for truth about redemption and relationship that are soul-deep. Thank you, Dawn.
Great reflections. I love this reminder of God’s commitment to us- that he sees our potential and that he never gives up on us, even in the difficult in-between stages.
Love the encouragement in “His compassion is an everlasting covenant”. Great post 🙂
the cultivation, the pruning, can be painful, uncomfortable at best … but oh, the joy of new life to share with others along the path!
I love how clearly and lovingly and gently you laid out the truths of the Master Gardener. God knows us so well and remembering that love today was exactly what I needed! He KNOWS me. Amen!
God keeps speaking a message about faithfulness into my life. Thanks for being part of that message. There’s always so much grace here, friend. Thanks for linking up at the new #PorchStories.
Dawn- I love the comparison of faith growth with gardening. Its comforting to know God sees what I can’t and is providing the right conditions for me to grow my best fruit.
Dawn, what a sweet thought: “A Master Gardener has already seen the harvest before putting the seeds into the soil.” How blessed are we that He’s the Planter, the Producer and the Reaper. That in-between work is the work that patience forms, isn’t it? Takes faith to have eyes to see what only God can truly see in the distance. So thankful He works in us, while He’s doing a work through us. — And to be called “His own.” I can’t even. We’re so blessed by Him. — Thank you for sharing these beautiful words with #ChasingCommunity, friend. ((xoxo))
Dawn so excited you were chosen to win the beautiful Magnolia sign from #ChasingCommunity last week! You’re such a blessing. I appreciate you, sister. If you don’t mind sending me your address I’ll get that shipped right out to you! ((xoxo))
I am so blessed by this sweet gift of grace, Brenda! Thank you!!!xoxo