If I could only get the garden in before fall….
If I could be a better manager of my time, self control….
If I could put down the computer so that I can have more personal time with God instead of personal time with friends…..
If only I could eat right, lose weight, and exercise..
If only I could have the solutions to problems people ask me….
If only I could control the world’s evil…
Then I might be able to be at peace.
What does God say is peace? Where do I find it? How do I achieve it? What does the world offer to women as happiness?
Being married if single, having a loving husband, perfectly obedient children, financial security, what else? The list is endless.
It’s now the beginning of August, and I look out over the 100 x 100 foot vegetable garden, one that I have planted, harvested now for 29 years, seven months out of the year. What I see this year makes my heart ache.. All I can see now are one- to three-foot weeds towering above a few ten-inch tomatoes vines I planted two and a half months ago. Our garden flooded beneath ten to twelve inches of rain this spring. The heavy showers that had continued for weeks afterward made it impossible to grow anything or even stand in. I stand there as my frail lone tomato flower stares back at me with weeping eyes. I think to myself, “Is this a reflection of me?”
Life has its way of staring back at you, sometimes in an abrupt, harsh fashion and sometimes our willpower cannot control the storms that pass through our lives. As I meditate on life, I pause and think, “Why do I think I can control the weather? Why do I think I can control life’s situations so that everything will be good and right, and all the people in my life can be happy all the time? After all, I’m not asking for selfish reasons. I give away much as what I harvest. I only want the best for those I love. Doesn’t God care? Why doesn’t God hear?”
I suppose Job had those same thoughts as the storms of His life came as a whirlwind. My garden problem is absolutely nothing compared to Job’s. He lost everything, his fortune, his children, and even his health to the point of total despair. He had no idea that God had agreed to the terms and conditions of Satan to prove his loyalty to the crown. It didn’t help matters that his wife’s view of God’s goodness was voiced loud and clear amidst Job’s sorrow. (Job 2:9) Isn’t that how life presents itself at times for us? We have no idea why God allows certain circumstances to surround us. We certainly are not as Job’s wife, complaining that God is not loving, or do we?
Sometimes, we privately think, “Doesn’t God remember His promises to bless those who are striving to keep His commandments?” God promised to never leave us nor forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5) We’ve heard that from the time we were children. God promised the nation of Israel that He would bless their crops and even the fruit of their bodies, i.e., their children if indeed they obeyed Him. How much more spiritual Israel?
If we have our doubts concerning God’s goodness toward us, we have to conclude that perhaps there is a piece of the puzzle we as human beings do not understand. Could it be that we are concentrating on the treasures on earth rather than the treasures in heaven? As I thought on these things, the thought occurred to me that it, indeed, I had been.
God says in His word:
“But store up treasures for yourselves in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal.” (Matthew 6:20)
“For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” (Luke 12:34)
What treasures in heaven? In Revelation we see a picture of God’s throne, and the Ark of the Covenant is right there with them. (Revelation 11:19) Oh, what a treasure that is! The commandments are stored in this treasure chest. Is there wealth in any physical form, good health or perhaps even a loving mate in there? No.
God knows what we have need of, and the greatest of these are spiritual. (Matthew 6:8)
Indeed, there is more to this physical life than physical things. What’s important to God is that we seek the spiritual treasures in heaven, those treasures that only come from His spirit by keeping His commandments, fruits of the spirit, i.e., love, joy, peace, longsuffering, goodness, meekness, faith, etc. (Galatians 5:22) In creating us physical, God utilizes our physical limitations to bring us to the spiritual treasures, which are much greater than any success or health physically. There is a saying that success in life is not about the destination, but the journey; I say, however, the destination (eternal life) is given freely, but spiritual lessons learned through the journey. This journey bears or brings about these treasures in heaven, and one of those treasures is peace. Paul says he ran to inherit an incorruptible crown. It’s about the spiritual journey.
“Do not you know that on a race-course, though all run, yet only one wins the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.” (I Corinthians 9:24)
“And every man that strives for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.” (I Corinthians 9:25)
During that journey, God looks out for not only our spiritual well being, but for that of the ones we love. Do we trust Him to build within us and/or our family the spiritual gifts, those treasures that do not rust and decay? (Matthew 6:20) His eye is on us. He knows the number of hairs on our head. (Luke 12:6-7) Do we our own children’s? How much more will He not give a “peace” to those who seek and ask Him?
Just as Job could not understand why God didn’t hear his pleas for relief during his test of faith, we cannot know until it’s over what spiritual treasures He is building in us. If we cannot wrap our minds around this thought, perhaps we can go to God to ask for help to build that trust and faith in Him. As the apostles said, “Lord, increase our faith.” (Luke 17:5) Ask and you shall receive God says in His word. He gives us faith, perhaps as a talent. It’s up to us to use that talent to increase what He has given us. Prayer and mediation, turning our hearts to believe God’s words is like building spiritual muscles, building endurance. After time it becomes a habit, yet we have to continually train those muscles to be able to continue to run the race and find the peace in doing so.
So, as I look out over my garden physically, it is only one of the myriad of physical circumstances to teach me those spiritual lessons.
In time, we can become as Habakkuk, concerning his thoughts after Jerusalem’s destruction, who sang words that echo in my mind this particular summer.
Here he systematically meditated on God’s power, His sovereignty, His goodness, and His judgments. He saw life as it actually was, accepted God’s sovereignty, and rested in the understanding that all he was not alone, and because of this meditation, he was able to find peace.
This peace man cannot understand, but God gives to those who love Him. (John 14:27)
“You marched through the land in indignation. You trampled the nations in anger. You went forth for the salvation of Your people for salvation with Your Anointed. You struck the head from the house of the wicked by laying bare from foundation to neck. Selah
You thrust through with his own arrows the head of his villages. They came out like a whirlwind to scatter me.. Their rejoicing was like feasting on the poor in secret. You walked through the sea with Your horses through the heap of great waters.
When I heard, my body trembled. My lips quivered at the voice…and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble. When He comes up to the people, He will invade them with his troops. Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls,
Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, and He will make me walk on my high hills. To the Chief Musician. With my stringed instruments.”
“The book of Habakkuk offers a story of a spiritual journey, testimony of the spiritual pilgrimage of a man who travels from doubts to faith. The difference between the beginning of the book (1:1-4) and its end (3:17-19) is impressive.” *
I found this sermon to be excellent in terms of understanding the peace, the fruit of the spirit of God; http://www.ucg.org/sermons/?term=83&speaker=gary+petty