The Garden

Most people think of Alaska as nothing but snow and ice.  It IS that in many places, but can you believe it was 80 degrees here yesterday!  Alaska is a massive land, with such a variety of climate, and where I live is one of the most moderate. 

Most citizens here are proud of more than just majestic mountains and spectacular scenery; they are intimately involved with flowers!   Early in the year we study our landscape and make plans for our geraniums, begonias, and roses, plus a cornucopia of annuals and perennials.  I joined this rewarding hobby long ago, working hard to landscape the lawn and carve out a piece of paradise around my house.

But this year I had some surprises.  Wildflower seeds that were thrown out even five or six years ago are just now giving my meadows a taste of beauty to excite the senses!  I had expected them to come up the next year but long gave up on their appearing, figuring I had wasted my time and money..but here they are! " the fullness of time".


Last spring, my friend and travel companion Sandy Irsik decided to spend a year in Bible school down in Oklahoma.  We had done mission work and evangelism together for two years in a row, and I needed some surgeries--we would take off a year, then leave again this fall for Asia.  Having sold her apartment, before she left she needed to give away some of her bulbs and plants, so a lot of them ended up in my garden.  And there they are now--blossoming in regal splendor!


I was looking forward to Sandy's return home.  Just three weeks ago we talked together on the phone like excited girls, planning our next trip abroad.  And I so wanted her to walk among "her" irises when she came by my house.  But they will have blossomed out before that can happen--for Sandy is now in the hospital recovering from surgery for a brain tumor--a malignant one. 

 Another unexpected surprise...


"Why" becomes a haunting, repetious word pounding our minds. Over these many years God has let me live on this earth, I have had to learn how important it is, that when that particular word begins to trouble me,  I must return and visit another the one where Jesus often prayed. I suppose it also had beautiful flowers, the smell of roses; the fluttering of butterflies and small birds.  People went there to enjoy its peacefulness and beauty.  Yet in the midst of seasons of joy, the fulfillment of expectations, the rewards of efforts, we must remember that it was also in such a garden Jesus experienced the greatest time of agony ever placed on any one person on any one spot of ground. His humanness as the Son of Man let him know and partake of life's deepest emotions and crushing pain.  His tears literally became like drops of blood.

But how surprised I was one day to learn something as I read of that account in the Bible. I had totally missed it. As Jesus was praying with tears in the Garden he said:

"Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me.."(Mark 14:36)

What was Jesus saying?  That He knew all things were possible with God; that is the very essence of perfect faith and belief.  And if it is true that all things are possible unto Him..God COULD make another way!  I have no idea how...but I do believe He could have done it.

Isn't that what we believe also?  That nothing is impossible with God? That God is a healer!  Isn't that what we all want for Sandy?  Praying, believing, fasting, doing all the things we are asked to do for our precious sister. Asking, in faith believing.  

But we must also remember how Jesus concluded his prayer:

"...neverthess not what I will, but what thou wilt."

And then, incredibly,  He came away from that place of agony to embrace "the joy set before Him".




This past Sunday we had a visiting minister, a young man--not yet out of his 40s whom I had know for many years.  On the front pew sat his wife--also a victim of cancer; now given only three months to live.  He shared from his heart; how hard it had been to deal with this, and yet he now  had a peace that was difficult to articulate to others.  The hours of despair were now gone..all was in the hands of God and the peace of God had descended on him like a warm blanket. "..and having done all, to stand." Stand in what?  In the knowledge that if God cares for the sparrows, He certainly cares for us in our trials. For whatever reasons He has not chosen to explain His purposes to us at this time, His love has not, nor ever will, fail.  As Job said, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him."



Should God's grace bring Sandy back to perfect health to labor in those fields "white unto harvest" once again, we will all rejoice with exceeding joy.  And yet I know that long after we both are gone to be with the Lord, our labors have not been in vain, nor are they affected by our absence.  Seeds that have fallen on good ground will continue to blossom and produce.  Sandy's irises will come up year after year to continue blessing whoever lives here, but in the spiritual, the Words of Life she spoke to so many over the world will also remain in the hearts and lives of thousands, to resound over a millennium of time.  And there will even be seeds that were thrown into the wind and scattered among the thorns and tall grasses years ago,  will rise in the fullness of their appointed will we when He returns.


There truly is a "peace that passeth all understanding".  It comes as we walk back down the pathway from that special place, to meet what lies ahead...having had a long talk with the One very well acquainted with our "sorrow and griefs, and who  was "touched with the feelings of our infirmities".  Who showed us how to have perfect faith, and at the same time...a perfect trust in His plan for the life He gave us, which we returned when we believed. 


It all happened in the most unlikely of places: a garden.



(c)June 2005