Since arriving in Sarajevo, I have developed a new hobby of gardening on my balcony. My balcony rail and widow seals are full of petunias and marigolds and I’ve started a small herb garden. Every morning, I get up and tend to my flowers. I begin by picking off the dead blooms, pulling weeds, spraying for aphids and then nourishing the plants with plenty of water and occasional fertilizer so that they are strengthened to withstand the scorching sun and other elements of the environment. I have been a Bible teacher for many years and have long understood how Papa is at work in our lives and tends to us a like a Gardener but this summer on my balcony has brought fresh insight into that reality. Everyday Papa is tending to us like flowers in a beautiful garden. He prunes and cuts back dead areas so that new life can eventually bloom, he pulls out the weeds in our hearts, he protects us from the things that desire to eat away at us and He nourishes us so that we are refreshed and able to thrive…all for His glory. Thankfully, Papa is a far more accomplished Gardener than I am. I sometimes over or under water my precious plants and I sometimes spray too much insecticide and rather than protecting my plants from the aphids, I un-intentionally kill them. But our Father, He is the Master Gardener. He always knows exactly what we need and He makes NO mistakes.

I have seen all of these wonderful illustrations about The Master Gardener with fresh insight over this summer and then this morning, I had another profound insight, perhaps the profoundest of all. I had finished caring for my plants and I sat down on my balcony for a few minutes to enjoy the beauty of the flowers. At the angle that I was sitting, I saw that I had missed a dead bloom in one of the flower trays. It was hidden underneath other flowers and leaves and was completely un-detectable except from that angle. As I set there it dawned on me that there are areas in my life that need pruning and tending to that only my Father can see. He has the unique angle and perspective that I don’t have. He sees those wounded, damaged and dead places in me and us that we cannot and never will be able to see for ourselves. So when painful things are happening in my life and I don’t understand what He is up to, I can rest in knowing that He has a perspective that I don’t and I can trust that He is at work pruning and nurturing places in my heart and character so that I can thrive and be fully alive for Him.

You may wonder why I would characterize this as the profoundest of insights for me. The answer is because it speaks to a very personal struggle in me. A few years ago when I was in the midst of intense therapy for a deeply traumatizing event in my life, I hated it and I mean I intensely hated it when my therapist would see things about me that I did not see myself. It drove me crazy because it made me feel stupid and extremely vulnerable. You see survival for me meant being able to see everything and anticipate, self-protect and take care of myself. The fact that there were things in and about me that I could not see myself evoked an agonizing sense of inadequacy, extreme vulnerability  and paralyzing fear. I have since learned that we all need the perspective of others to help us see things about us that we cannot see ourselves and to help us grow and mature. None of us were designed to go it alone. All of us need others…people in our lives who will love and care for us…who will help us see the things we can’t see…the things hidden out of sight and beyond our awareness…and have the courage us to speak truthfully into our life.

And, above all, we need The Master Gardener who has a perspective that we never will and who is completely for us, completely trustworthy and always tending to our lives for our good.

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