Friday, October 30, 2009

The Baby Time Forgot

The Baby Time Forgot
by Judy Vandiver

She took my hand and led me to the far northeast corner of the old cemetery.  Kneeling down she began to pull weeds from a small unmarked grave. “This is where we buried him,” she said. I dropped to my knees and joined my small childish hands with her old creased ones and helped her clear the grave. 
            “Such a small grave,” I thought.  “Tell me about him, grandma,” I pleaded. 
            “It was in the late 1930’s and I already had six children. He was my seventh child. His birth was not easy and I struggled for two days in labor with him. The doctor came from town and stayed at the house. He didn’t give much hope for me or the baby. Finally, however, a little baby boy was born. He cried once, and then stopped.
            “Blue baby” are the words I remember hearing the doctor whisper to Grandpa."
            “What is a blue baby?” I asked.
            “Well, it seems my baby boy was not getting enough oxygen. This caused his skin to take on a bluish look.  He didn’t live long and he died in my arms.”
            The doctor told Grandpa that I didn’t have much of a chance of survival either. I wanted to go and be with my new baby, but I also knew that I had six other children depending on me. I prayed and I willed my body to fight back. When the doctor returned several days later, he was surprised to find me still alive. Another week passed and the doctor brought his wife to see me. 
            “I wanted my wife to see a miracle,” he said. “It is only by God’s intervention that you are still alive.” 
            “A part of me, however,” continued my grandmother as she yanked at some wayward dandelions, “was buried here years ago with my tiny baby son.” Continuing to pull the wild plants, I noticed that she carefully left a twisted and rampant honey-suckle vine. 
            Grandma continued to tell me more about this baby that had been my dad’s brother. I remember so much of what she told me, but the one thing I do not remember is the name she gave the baby. 
            More than 40 years after the death of her baby, my grandmother finally joined her son in heaven. One day recently, I asked my dad and his remaining siblings about the blue baby. Most of them had forgotten all about the little brother, and of those who did remember, no one could recall his name or where he was buried. 
            I drove four hours back to the old homestead and made my way to the old cemetery. Something inside me yearned to clear the weeds I was sure had grown over the grave. I tromped to the northeast corner, next to the graves skirting the edge of the woods. Suddenly it was twenty years earlier and my grandma held my hand.
            “It’s just over here in the corner,” she said. 
            I listened for her voice. I tried to follow her footsteps. But I couldn’t find the wild honey-suckle vines or the grave.  It seemed that time had stolen the memories that remained of this nameless relative. I imagine that a few generations from mine will have totally forgotten the blue baby. 
            “And what of me?” I thought. Will future generations know who I was or what I did with my life?” I thought of the third chapter of Ecclesiastes. "All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. Who knows if the spirit of man rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth? So I saw that there is nothing better for a man than to enjoy his work, because that is his lot. For who can bring him to see what will happen after him?” In that same chapter, Solomon also tells us that God has set eternity in the hearts of men.
             The promise of eternity with God, even in light of the fact that those who follow after us may not remember us or know much about us, calls us to be faithful. Like the baby that time forgot, future generations may not recall my name, but the work that I do for the Lord, will have everlasting effects. It is for this reason that I strive to do the Lord’s will and that I pray for those who will follow after me to also remain devoted to God. 
            Dear Lord, please let me live in a way that will bring glory to your name. Though I may be forgotten in time, may what I do help to promote you so that your words will never be forgotten or lost to future generations. Speak to those who come after me that they may know the same love of the Father that I know.

The Baby Time Forgot - copyright 2007 by Judy Vandiver

Thursday, October 29, 2009


by Judy Vandiver

Several hours passed as I sat on the uncomfortable bench in the courtroom of the Family Law Center. The somber judge, with slightly graying hair and an official black robe, called case after case to his bench.
The situations varied. A mother requested child support; a couple filed for divorce; vandalism of a person’s property. The court reporter’s face seemed unchanging and emotionless as she did her job. Complainants and defendants wore looks of fatigue and despair.
Finally, the case I had been waiting for was called to the bench. My son David, his wife Michele, and her thirteen-year-old son Alex, moved through a small swinging gate. Their lawyer placed a petition to adopt before the judge.
Before the adoption could proceed, it was necessary to terminate the rights of Alex’s biological father. Alex could not have two fathers. He would have to belong to one or the other.
Testimony was given to show that the natural father had not shown love and concern for the child. After deliberation, the judge wiped out the ties between Alex and his birth father. At that point, Alex had no father.
David took a step forward and said, “I wish to adopt Alex. I want to make him mine.”
Again, the lawyer spoke up giving witness to the home study and background check the state had completed on David, proving him trustworthy and someone who would be a faithful father to Alex.
The judge questioned David, Michele, and Alex, asking Alex what he wanted. Alex turned his eyes to David and said, “I want to be his son.”
A stranger would decide the legal fate of these three people who already considered themselves a family. The courtroom held its collective breath. I glanced at the court reporter. Her face glowed. The judge smiled and said, “I now pronounce you Father and Son.”
The spell on the courtroom was broken as whispers again floated in the air. Did the whole room cheer or was it only my heart singing?
The once stone-faced judge grinned as he ordered a new birth certificate to be issued for Alex, proclaiming David as his father and decreeing that Alex and David’s last name would be the same.
Tears washed my cheeks and I offered thanks to God for the wonderful blessing of Alex. I could feel God’s presence as we emerged from the courthouse. And that’s when God reminded me that I was also adopted years ago when he made me part of his family. 
I compared my spiritual adoption with what had taken place in the courtroom.
 David initiated the process of adopting Alex - God made the first move toward me, before I knew Him.
My ties to the father of lies had to be terminated before God could be proclaimed my true Father. 
Like Alex, I received a new birth certificate and my name was recorded in Heaven.
I was reminded of what another David wrote long ago–words God had spoken to him. “He said to me, ‘You are my son; today I have become your Father.’” (Psalm 2:6b)  

Adopted - copyright 2007 by Judy Vandiver

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Naming of a Grandmother

The Naming of a Grandmother
by Judy Vandiver

Several years ago, as my husband and I eagerly waited for our sixth grandchild to arrive, my son and his wife tried to pick out baby names. My son asked if there were any family names I might suggest. I reminded him that his great grandmother had named her second child Omega, hoping it would be the last". She went on to have five more children," I explained, "so there might not be much to this naming thing."

I know I should have shown more interest in the names suggested, but of far more concern to me was what the baby would eventually call me. While the parents may pick out a baby's name, the baby will often name the grandparents whatever they choose. I am currently known as Nana, Mom-Mom, Manny and Chicken-Nana. I was a little dubious about the name "Chicken-Nana" until I learned that this grandchild referred to the other grandmother as "Dead-Nana." I have since grown fond of the name "Chicken-Nana." My own parents were named Louisi-nana, Tractor Paw-Paw, Papa, and Pa-Two (as opposed to Pa-One.)

When my sister contemplated what she wanted her granddaughter to call her she finally came up with a childhood nickname the family used for her and asked to be called, "Mimi." Her husband said that since kids sometimes rhyme the names of grandmothers and grandfathers, he wanted to make it clear that he was not to be call "Peepee."

So what names would I choose for my grandchildren to call me? I think I would most like the name friend. I pray that I can always live up to that name and be a friend physically, mentally, and spiritually to each grandchild. And I pray that it will be a while yet before I become known as "Dead Nana."

Pictures of my two grandmothers:
Left: "Maimeau" was born Eva Etoile McCann and was known by many simply as "Miss Eva."

Right: "Momo" was born Valley Eva Reed. Here she is with six of her children. (Omega is in the brown plaid pants and my dad is peeking over his mother's shoulder with the red ball cap perched on his head.)

Below: My six grandchildren. That last grandchild is the one and only sweet little girl on the bench. (We might be from Texas, but those are not real guns.)

The Naming of a Grandmother - copyright 2005 by Judy Vandiver

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I Come to the Garden Alone - Part Seven

I Come to the Garden Alone
Part Seven
By Judy Vandiver

 Last week, as I sat in the garden having morning devotions, I read from Luke chapter two.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. (Luke 2:8-9 NIV)

I have always pictured a glow around the angel of the Lord, but these verses said the glory of the Lord shone around the shepherds. I tried to visually picture what that must have looked like. No wonder the shepherds were afraid. Seeing an angel would be frightening enough, but to be bathed in God’s glory, to have that glory actually shine around them, was enough to terrify them.

About that time, my husband snuck outside and snapped a picture of me. Later, when I downloaded the photos on my camera to my computer, a surprise greeted me. It wasn’t the fact that he had taken my picture, but that God had hidden another lesson for me in my garden. The lesson was invisible to me in the garden, but the snapshot had captured another God moment.

A single shaft of pure sunlight shone directly on my Bible. Tears spilled onto my desk as I realized God’s glory had shone upon His word as I sat in my garden. I marveled at the blessings that overflowed from His heart to mine. I thought how when we read the Holy Scriptures, it is only with the illumination of God that we understand them.

Several verses came to my mind.

For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. (Proverbs 2:6 NIV)

For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light. (Psalm 36:9 NIV)

But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: "Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."(Ephesians 5:13-14 NIV)

What an amazing God we serve. More times than we realize, He illustrates His truth in nature, in everyday occurrences, and this week, through a snapshot. 

I called for Steve to come see the picture. He, too, was awed by what God showed us in the photograph. He said, “I was afraid that it was too bright out there. I thought the sun might get in the way.”

“No,” I responded, “The Son never gets in the way.”

Personal Study Questions:
  1. In what ways has God exposed you to the light of His word?
  2. What blessings have you received from God as he directs your daily path?
  3. What surprise revelations has God given you through nature?
  4. As you read the Bible, ask God to shed light and understanding on His word.
  5. Choose one or more of the three scriptures above. Meditate on it, then memorize it.

Copyright 2009 by Judy Vandiver

Monday, October 26, 2009

I Come to the Garden Alone - Part Six

I Come to the Garden Alone

Part Six

By Judy Vandiver

I planned for this series of devotions on my gardening dreams and attempts to be in five parts. But this week, two related things happened in my garden and I found that God wasn’t finished with this set of lessons.

Let me tell you about the first incident. I enjoy staying up late at night and several nights ago, around midnight, I noticed that the fountain and waterfall in the back yard were still on. The problem, however, lay in the fact that the switch to control these items is on the backside of the house near a gardening shed. This is an unlit area of the yard and is pitch black at night.

I had no desire to traipse through the garden in the dark, so I did what any good wife would do. I woke my husband up. I didn’t intend for Steve to turn the fountains off, I just wanted to know where the flashlight was. Steve, however, said it was easier to go turn the water features off than it was to find the flashlight. So that’s what he did.

The next night, we forgot to turn the fountain and waterfall off again. Again, it was midnight. Again, I woke Steve up. The next day, hubby did something special for me. (No, he didn’t lay the flashlight out where I could find it.) He installed an extra light in the back yard.

It’s a small, beautiful light that focuses on the waterfall in the corner of the yard. It gives just enough light to see on the backside of the yard. And in addition, he installed a remote switch to turn off the light, the fountain, and the waterfall from inside the house. Isn’t he thoughtful? He said he did it for me, but we all know he did it because he likes his sleep.

But, Steve didn’t tell me about the light. During the day, I didn’t notice it, as it made no difference in the bright sunlight. Later that evening, Steve went to bed, and soon, I checked to see that everything was turned off and locked for the night. As I checked on the backyard, I saw the soft spotlight reflect and glimmer against the water trickling over the waterfall. It enhanced the feeling of peace I get from my garden. I've attached a picture of this corner of the yard.

Next, I did what any good wife would do. I woke Steve up to thank him for the new light in the garden. He eventually went back to sleep, but I stayed up a little longer, sitting in the garden, watching the light reflect and play on the water and rocks.

The next morning, I took my coffee, devotional book, and Bible to the backyard. I turned to Luke chapter two. As I read about an angel of the Lord appearing to the shepherds, I noticed that he came to them at night. The devotional book I read from commented that many times we can see God’s glory better at night.

I thought about this and I remembered the spotlight Steve had placed in the yard. I didn’t see the new light until it became dark. I didn’t notice it until I needed it. And then I wondered how many times, I have failed to notice God until I need Him for my selfish purposes.

I think many of us are probably guilty of this. Even when we recognize and live for the Lord, we don’t always notice His true glory until we are captured within a dark moment. Sometimes all around us must be dark before we notice our light source.

2 Corinthians 4:6 says:
For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. (NIV)

The first chapter of the Gospel of John tells us that Jesus is the light of this world. In His light, we can see ourselves as we really are. We all know light as something that dispels the dark. And we know that light is often described as the absence of light. Perhaps circumstances only seem dark, because our moment is temporarily void of the true light.

The next time you face a dark moment, ask God to shed His light on both you and your problems.
Tomorrow we will finish this mini-sage of my gardening attempts and the spiritual lessons God taught me. Earlier this week, my husband took a picture in the garden. When we looked at the digital image on the computer we were both amazed to see something that had been unnoticed as we sat in the garden. God had yet another lesson. I'll share that lesson and the picture with you tomorrow.

Personal Study Questions:
When was the last time you experienced the true glory of God?
How has God been more visible to you in dark times than in untroubled days?
What areas of your life are currently in the dark or maybe in the shadows?
What light might God’s word illuminate on that situation?
Memorize John 8:12: “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”

Copyright 2009 by Judy Vandiver

Friday, October 23, 2009

I Come to the Garden Alone - Part Five

I Come to the Garden Alone
Part Five
By Judy Vandiver

This last week, we have looked at lessons to be learned from gardening mistakes. I’ve shared so many of my blossom bloopers. God has taught me many lessons in the midst of an area where I considered myself a failure. But this morning, I sat in my garden and enjoyed the beauty of his presence.

It’s taken me almost sixty years to have a garden close to what I always wanted. My husband and I have spent time, patience, and hard work on our back yard. We now have curved sidewalks, oval shaped flowerbeds, garden benches, an Italian water fountain, a rock waterfall, and many gorgeous plants. My favorites are still the roses, but to the left is a picture of a shrimp plant from my garden area. Yes, I have had it for awhile and it's still alive.

This morning all the plants are alive and beautiful. They are thriving. I can’t promise what tomorrow holds. But this one thing I know. God meets me in my garden regardless of my gardening skills. He is ever-present in my life; through the times when I’m successful and through the times when I am not.

So, what can a person who does not have a green thumb learn from Gardening? I have learned that God has important lessons for us even in (especially in) our failures. We must look for the hidden truths along the way. God has taught me to read and follow His directions, to be sincere in my faith before Him, and that His anointing oil can change me into something new and wonderful, allowing me to be a fragrant blessing to those around me. 

I encourage each of you today to let God’s word take root and grow in your heart. Even when the garden is a disaster, God is in the midst of it. Only He can bring forth the blossoms that dreams are made of. I come to my garden alone, but once there, I experience God.


Originally I Come to the Garden Alone was going to be written in five parts, but two things happened in my garden this week and I felt God teaching me lessons about His love and His light. I'll share one of those lessons on Monday and one on Tuesday.

Personal Study Questions:

  1. In what area of your life do you believe yourself to be a failure?
  2. What hidden truths are wrapped up in your belief?
  3. What spiritual truth might God be trying to teach you?
  4. What new seeds can you cultivate in your life?
  5. What do you need to do to help those seeds survive?

Copyright 2009 by Judy Vandiver

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I Come to the Garden Alone - Part Four

I Come to the Garden Alone
Part Four
By Judy Vandiver

Over the course of my life, I have tried all kinds of gardens. Most of them have continued to be disasters of the earthly kind, while God has continued to guide me in spiritual growth in the midst of my failures.

One year, Steve and I decided to grow tomatoes. The plants looked healthy. After a lot of waiting, we finally noticed (if you’ve been following my blog, you’ll notice that waiting thing again) that we had some small green tomatoes on our plants. And just about the time they were looking wonderful, our neighbor walked across our shared patio area for a quick visit. He had just changed the oil in his car and still had the old oil in a bucket as we spoke. As Herb turned to go, he tripped, dumping the oil onto those gorgeous tomato plants. We tried rinsing the plants off but within a couple of days they shriveled and died

When Steve and I bought our second home, the yard was wonderfully landscaped. There was a great rose garden by the front walk. There were huge hydrangea bushes under the dining room window. We had three fig trees, a pear tree, a cherry tree, a black walnut tree, and three pecan trees. There were also quite a few trees and plants that I didn’t know the names of. We lived there for about 15 years. When we moved, two pecan trees and one fig tree had somehow managed to survive. Everything else was gone.

I’ve even tried rock gardens. That was the only time my garden flourished. I was finally growing something—moss and fungus covered the rocks.

My gardening failures have not stopped me from continuing to desire and dream of a beautifully landscaped yard. I love roses and from time to time, I once again try my hand at gardening. I’ll buy a beautiful plant or rose bush. They flourish for a while, but usually not very long. All too soon they wither, die, and end up in the garbage.

One day I came across a wonderful gardening secret. I found a type of gardening that was perfect for me. I am now the world’s greatest potpourri gardener. That’s right. I grow potpourri.

You see, potpourri is made from dead flowers! So now, I can grow sweet, little rose bushes, daisies, or whatever I like. When they die, they are just right for the picking. Just when they look like they are ready for the trash heap, I grab those dried out and shriveled up blooms. When someone comments on the condition of my little blossoms, I respond, “Yes, they are just about perfect, don’t you think?”

Sometimes I even deliberately pick one while it’s looking fresh and perky, just to get that right color or shape. Or maybe I want a rosebud. I have even gathered some wonderful botanical beauties that others call weeds.

I place these botanical beauties and withered blossoms in a dehydrator. The next day they are fully dried. But they are not potpourri yet! No... they’re just "deader" than they were before. They may be pretty to look at, all mixed together, but to make them into potpourri, I have to add another ingredient.

I place my dehydrated mixture in a plastic bag and add drops of scented oil. I close up the bag and wait. (Ever the waiting thing!) Not until the oil has time to be absorbed does the potpourri begin to give off a wonderful fragrance. Without the oil, all they can do is “look pretty.” I have found that I can even add gardenia fragrant oil to my rose petals and enjoy the smell I remember so well from my childhood and mother’s garden.

Sometimes the potpourri loses its fragrance. But all I have to do is add more oil. One bowl of potpourri can last forever.

Ok, you know it’s coming - my lesson from God. Here it is. I can look good to the world, but it’s not until I die to self and God anoints me with the oil of His Spirit—until that oil is given time to be absorbed, that I become more than something that just looks good. Once His oil is absorbed, I can give off a sweet fragrance to those around me. Just as the fragrance from the potpourri is not from the petals themselves but from the oil, the fragrance we give the world must come from God.

And just as I can make a rose petal smell like a gardenia, God’s spirit can change me into more than what I look like to the world. I must let His spirit permeate my soul. I must give it time to be fully absorbed—then I can let His fragrance enrich those around me.

And just as I have to go back and add drops of oil occasionally to my potpourri, I must be dependent on the master gardener to keep me anointed with His Spirit. I must remain close in Him.

One night long ago, a man named Nicodemus came to Jesus and declared to him that he knew Jesus was from God. Jesus explained however, that it took more than knowing that. It took a rebirth. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.” Just as my roses have to die in order to be made into something new, to enter God’s Kingdom we must die to self and be born of His Spirit.

I found the following verses in The Message Bible. They come from the book of Romans.

But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, The spirit of Christ, won’t know what we’re talking about. But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells - even though you still experience all the limitations of sin - you yourself experience life on God’s terms. It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive and present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With His Spirit living in you, our body will be as alive as Christ’s! (Romans 8)

Personal Study Questions:
  1. Have I died to self and allowed God to anoint me with the oil of His Spirit?
  2. Does my oil need refreshing?
  3. Do I give off a sweet fragrant attitude to those around me?
  4. Am I willing to let the master gardener change me?
  5. Read the 23rd Psalm and meditate on verse 5: “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”

Copyright 2002 by Judy Vandiver

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I Come to the Garden Alone - Part Three

I Come to the Garden Alone
Part Three
By Judy Vandiver

The last two days, I have shared with you, some of my failed attempts at gardening; how I wanted to meet God in my garden, receive blessings, and how I was convinced I had a black thumb. I thought God would never want to come to my garden area and there were no lessons from my disastrous flower growing. I was finding out, however, that God had much to teach me about Himself, even in what I considered a barren garden.

A sane person might think I would have given up on having a picturesque garden. And I might have, if I had not had a stunningly brilliant idea. I drove to the local dime store (we still had them in that day), and bought artificial flowers. They were gorgeous shades of blue and pink and I loved them.

I went home and "planted" my new blossoms in the flower box and in the muddy spot next to the front door. I know we shouldn't brag, but, honestly, I had the best-looking house on the street. If there had been a garden club, I’m sure I would have won a monthly award. Every time I went in and out of the house, I smiled smugly to myself. I had beaten the gardening game.

A few days later, I heard a noise from just outside the front door. When I opened the door, there stood my sister, Gwen and her fiancĂ©, Kevin. They held their sides, doubled over with laughter. “How rude,” I thought. “They may not like my artificial flowers, but they could at least appreciate my efforts.”

I stepped on the porch to defend my blue and pink blossoms.  I looked down and gasped. Someone had stolen my flowers. They were gone. In their place, someone had planted white flowers of irregular shapes.  

Then I looked closer and discovered the problem. You see, this was before the days of silk flowers. My artificial flowers were plastic. Now, you might be able to plant plastic flowers in Alaska—but not in Houston—and certainly not in August. My gorgeous blue and pink flowers were now a bleached white. And as if to add insult to injury, the wax had melted and was dripping from what remained of the stems. To this day, my family reminds me that I can’t even grow artificial plants.

"Okay, God, here we go again," I thought. "What lesson do you have for me in these bleached and melted flowers?" I began to think about how plastic and fake my flowers had been. From a distance, they looked real enough, but under close examination, the truth was revealed. When they had been tried and tested, my flowers could not stand up to the heat.

God led me to Matthew chapter 15. Some Pharisees had come from Jerusalem to Gennesaret to ask Jesus questions. They wanted to know why Jesus’ disciples were not following all the Jewish laws. Jesus responded to them by quoting from the scriptures. He said, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.” 

God began to show me that when I claim to honor Him, but live a self-filled life, my worship means nothing. If all I am doing is acting religious, then I am as artificial as the plastic flowers. My actions and attitudes must be sincere. If they are not, then Jesus is describing me when He calls the Pharisees hypocrites.

The Pharisees knew a lot about God, but they didn’t know God. It is not enough to study about religion or even to study the Bible. I must respond directly to God. I must come to know God in a very real and personal way. Then when tried by the trials of life, even though all else around me withers and dies, my soul won't melt like warm wax on a hot August day.   

Personal Study Questions:

  1. Do I worship Christ in vain?
  2. Is there anything about my relationship with Christ that is plastic?
  3. Are my actions and attitudes sincere?
  4. Can my faith stand up under trials? Can it take the heat?
  5. Memorize John 4:23-24 “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” (NIV)
NOTE: God has given me a special picture taken in my garden. I will share more about that at the conclusion of this devotional series on my gardening attempts. The concluding devotional will be next Tuesday, Oct. 27. Tomorrow's devotional, I'll share how I found "just the right kind" of garden for myself. 

Copyright 2002 by Judy Vandiver

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I Come to the Garden Alone - Part Two

I Come to the Garden Alone
Part Two
By Judy Vandiver

I do hope that you enjoyed yesterday’s blog and my ill-fated attempt with planting flower seeds. Another gardening story that my family seems to take great delight in retelling happened when I was in my early 20’s. I still had not developed any gardening skills, but I kept trying.

My husband and I had just bought our first home and much to my delight there was a large brick flower box in the front yard and a good size flowerbed right by the front door. These areas were screaming for a gardener’s touch to add color and variety to our yard.

I had already learned my lessons with the seed thing, but I saw one of those ads in a magazine for a carpet of blossoms. It came rolled up like a carpet, the ad stated, with seeds already planted in this sod roll. All you had to do was roll it out... water it... and wait. (Again with the waiting, but that’s another lesson.) 

I cut out the ad, sent in my money, and soon my carpet of flowers arrived. I checked and double checked the directions this time and did exactly what was printed. I rolled the carpet out in the front flowerbed by the door, watered it, and waited. 

I have to tell you I wasn’t as excited as I had been when I planted those first seeds as a child. In fact, by this time in my gardening career, I was very doubtful, but the ad proclaimed the product guaranteed. So, I watered and waited. All I ever got by the front door was a muddy mess. Those seeds never did sprout. 

Still wanting to make the front of my home have some curb appeal, I decided to try a different tactic. I went and bought some pot plants. “Let's forget about the seed stuff,” I thought. “I’ll buy something that’s already sprouted.” And you know—it looked good for a while.

But I just don’t have a green thumb. My fresh blossoms drooped, wilted, then dried up. All too soon, they were dead. There was no longer any life in the pretty flowerpots.

Later, as I reflected on those plants, I realized I wasn’t very diligent about watering them. With the carpet of blossoms, I watered them when I first unrolled the seeds. But I soon neglected them in favor of other things that had grabbed my interest. I did the same thing with the blooming potted plants. In addition to not watering them, I also did not expose them much to the sun. Poor things probably never had a chance.

When I abandon the feeding and watering of my soul, I become as wilted, dried up, and dead as neglected potted plants. My soul craves a daily dose of the “son.” Old Testament scripture states:

From early on your Sanctuary was set high, a throne of glory, exalted! O God, you're the hope of Israel. All who leave you end up as fools, deserters with nothing to show for their lives, who walk off from God, fountain of living waters— and wind up dead! (Jeremiah 17:12-13 The Message)

But there is one who can revive my sagging spiritual state in a way that I was never able to do for my plants or my carpet of blossoms. More verses from The Old Testament:

How exquisite your love, O God! How eager we are to run under your wings, To eat our fill at the banquet you spread as you fill our tankards with Eden spring water. You're a fountain of cascading light, and you open our eyes to light. (Psalm 36:7-9 The Message)

I love those verses. We can run under God’s wings, be fed at a banquet, and filled with Eden spring waters. And better than any physical sunlight is the light that He nourishes us with even in the shadows.

My poor plants had no choice about its food and water. It was up to me to feed them. God gives us a choice, however. We can choose to be fed and watered. We can go to the source of nourishment. Or we can allow ourselves to wither and die. 

Personal Study Questions:
  1. Have I watered the Spirit of God within myself?
  2. Are there areas of my spiritual life that are dying?
  3. Am I diligent in watering my soul, or do I become distracted by other things in life?
  4. Do I expose my soul to the “son” or a daily basis?
  5. Memorize Psalm 36:7-9 “How exquisite your love, O God! How eager we are to run under your wings, To eat our fill at the banquet you spread as you fill our tankards with Eden spring water. You're a fountain of cascading light, and you open our eyes to light. (Psalm 36:7-9 The Message)

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you about my gardening attempt that my family doesn’t let me forget. A small hint—it’s unreal.

Copyright 2002 by Judy Vandiver

Monday, October 19, 2009

I Come to the Garden Alone - Part One

I Come to the Garden Alone
Part One
By Judy Vandiver

I have a beautiful patio and garden area where I enjoy morning devotions. The garden is peaceful and when there, I can feel God’s closeness. I’m reminded of my maternal grandmother’s favorite song, I Come to the Garden Alone.

But I haven’t always had a beautiful garden. I used to come to the garden alone because I don't want anyone to see the desolate spot in my yard. I thought of putting up a sign that said, "Stop! Do not enter! Go away!" In fact, most of my life, my gardening attempts have ended in frustration and failure. Over the next few days, I would like to share with you some of my gardening mishaps and what God taught me. In the garden, God walks with me and talks with me. I know I am His.

When it comes to gardening, I am known for my black thumb. My family loves to tell stories on each other. When they want to have a good laugh on me, they tell of my gardening attempts. Just get anyone of them going and they will soon be laughing so hard that you won't be able to hear what they are saying. Even I have to laugh when I reflect on some of my futile attempts at tilling God's earth.  

All my life, I have marveled at the miracle of growing things. I have heard countless object lessons on the glorious miracle of how God transforms tiny seeds into mighty and beautiful plants. My grandmother used to tell me how God spoke to her in her garden. "I draw spiritual strength," she said, "from the time I spend with God in nature. I come away feeling refreshed and renewed in my soul. It is in my garden," she continued, "where I feel blessed by God."

I want to receive blessings like that. But alas… I couldn’t grow anything. Therefore, I assumed that there were no lessons from God that I could learn in my garden. I wasn't even sure God wanted to spend time in my garden. Perhaps, like my family, he was having a good laugh. 

Now, I know many of you may say you don’t have a green thumb, but some of my greatest blunders have been with plants. As I have reflected on some of these blunders, I have begun to find spiritual insight and blessings. God has shown me that he has many valuable lessons for me—even in my failed gardening attempts.

The first recollection I have of trying to be a gardener was when I was about 5 or 6 years old. My mom and Dad were great gardeners. Dad had many gardens that produced mega amounts of super vegetables. Mom has always had great houseplants and flowerbeds. I remember Mother having a gorgeous gardenia bush in our yard. I thought those flowers smelled wonderful.

One day when I went with Mom to the store, she bought flower seeds. I asked her if I, too, could have some seeds and plant my own flowerbed. I was delighted when she said yes. 

When we got home, Mom and I went into the back yard. She marked off a small portion of her flowerbed. "This is your section of the flower garden," Mom said. "You'll have to work the soil before you plant your seeds. You must prepare the soil to receive the seed."

I watched attentively as Mom prepared her soil. This looked easy. In fact, it looked a lot like when my sisters and I would play and dig in the back yard. “Nothing to it,” I thought. I was soon working the ground as I had seen Mom do, breaking up the soil, which I called dirt, then I prepared to plant my seeds. 

I was so excited. The lady next door, Mrs. Hodges, was outside. I don’t ever remember any other time that I talked with her, but I recall that I called to her to come and see what I was doing. "Look at my garden," I said. "I'm planting seeds. They are going to grow and become flowers like Mom's. They are going to be so beautiful. They are mine and I'm going to do it all by myself."

As I continued to chatter away, Mrs. Hodges just smiled, nodded, and went back into the house. She wasn’t nearly as excited as I was. 

I couldn’t wait for my flowers to sprout. Mom explained, however, that now came the hard part—the waiting. "The waiting is necessary," she explained, “and even though you can't see them, something wonderful and mysterious is happening to your seeds. They are preparing to become blossoms."

Blossoms! What a glorious thought. “I'm going to have blossoms.”

Every day I checked to see if my little blossoms were ready to make an appearance. I would look at the picture of the flowers on the now empty seed packet. “Would my blossoms be as gorgeous as the photo? Would they smell as fragrant as Mom’s gardenias?”

I continued to wait as mother had instructed, although not very patiently. Finally, one day as I entered the back yard I saw some green sprouts coming up. But they weren’t in my section of the flowerbed. They were in Mom’s section. Soon all of Mom’s flowers had sprouted. They were growing into sturdy healthy little blossoms. My section still had dirt.

I didn’t understand it. Neither could Mom. "Tell me what you did," mother instructed. 

"I did just what you had did, Mom," I said. "I took out all the weeds in my section. I worked the soil. I put my seeds in the earth and I covered them up with dirt. I watered them and besides that," I added, "I have waited just like you said I had to."

Mrs. Hodges was in her yard and overheard my mother and me talking. She came to the fence. "I watched Judy plant those flowers,” she said, “and she did just what she said, but those flowers are never coming up."

My mom and I both looked on as she continued. "I think she must have buried those poor little seeds about six foot under. She dug a very deep hole, threw in the seeds, and filled the hole up. She was so excited that I didn't have the heart to tell her they were never going to bloom. She buried them too deep."

As an adult I began to reflect on this, the beginning of my gardening “Ok, God,” I asked, “what is the spiritual lesson and insight in this incident? Where is my blessing?"

I was sure that God would shake his head on this one. But he didn't.

As I thought about my little blossoms that never were, God began to write the following message on my heart. I can ask God for the desires of my heart. And even when he gives them, I can keep very busy doing what looks like all the right things. I can share with others and tell them about my joy and excitement. I can wait. I can hope. I can dream. But, I mustn’t forget to do one very important thing. I need to read God's directions. 

With my flower seeds, I had been so busy studying the picture on the front of the package, that I forgot to turn it over. I had never read the back of the package. I'm not sure at that age that I even could read. But, today, when I look at the back of a seed package it usually says, place seeds in the ground and cover with 3 to 4 INCHES of soil. Not feet—but inches.

Have you ever been so busy doing for God; doing what you think He wants that you forget to consult Him? I have. He has given us very detailed directions for life. And in those directions, he cautions us when in 1 Sam 15:22, he says, "Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.”

I had sacrificed my time and my desires, and unfortunately, I had even sacrificed my seeds, all because I had not read the directions. I sensed God pressing upon me a basic spiritual truth; we need to read his directions. We need to spend time in the Word. But wait, God shared something else with me. In James 1:22 God says, "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says!"

Oh, the difference my little corner of the flowerbed could have experienced if I had read and followed the directions. Oh, the blossoms that could have been mine. Oh, the difference my little corner of this world can experience if I read and follow God’s word. Oh, the blossoms and blessings that are mine to enjoy. I come to my Garden alone, and even when my seeds don’t sprout, God meets me there. 

Tomorrow, I will share with you another strategy I once had for creating a flower garden and what God taught me through my futile attempts.

Personal Study Questions
  1. What seeds of faith have I hidden from the “son” light of God?
  2. How would I compare my time spent reading God’s word? Is my bible reading time, dead, wilted, like a single wild flower, or a beautiful bouquet of blossoms?
  3. Do I consistently strive to put into practice what I learn from God’s word?
  4. Name one thing God tell us in his directions that I am not currently obeying.
  5. Read and memorize Isaiah 35 1-2a: “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing.” (KJV)

Copyright 2002 Judy Vandiver

Friday, October 16, 2009

Teacakes and Memories

Teacakes and Memories
By Judy Vandiver

I made a batch of teacakes this week. A simple thing to do. A plain cookie to eat. But they brought back some wonderful memories. My Aunt Teppy was a master teacake baker, and I used a recipe she handed down to me years ago. Mine didn’t rival hers, nevertheless, they were good and they made me smile.

When I was growing up, Aunt Teppy would call the house and tell Mother she had made teacakes. Mother usually responded, “Put on a pot of coffee. I’ll be right over.”

She’d gather up the four kids and we’d drive to Valerie Street. Once we arrived at my aunt’s house, she would pour glasses of milk and pass out teacakes to the kids. Then she and Mother would sit in the kitchen, dunking their teacakes in coffee, letting them get good and soft,  and enjoying the sweet treats. The two sisters would chat, laugh, and eat more teacakes.

My siblings and I would sit in the small den, dunking our own cookies in our milk. We tried to imitate the grown-ups and would occasionally ask for our milk to be poured into coffee cups. We smiled, we laughed, and we asked if we could have more teacakes.

Aunt Teppy was never stingy with her teacakes. She knew she could always make more. Besides, I think it gave her pleasure to see us enjoy them.

Aunt Teppy went to be with the Lord last year. I miss her. And I know Mother misses her, too. So, when I made teacakes this week, I called her. “I just made teacakes,” I said.

“Put on a pot of coffee. I’ll be right over.”  She and Dad were soon there. We poured our coffee. We dunked our cookies.  We chatted. We laughed. And we had more teacakes.

I work from home and I stay fairly busy.  But I’m glad I took the time to do a bit of baking and enjoy the important things in life.  Some things just go better with teacakes. Like family, friends, and memories.

Teacakes and Memories  - copyright 2009 by Judy Vandiver

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Winning Team

The Winning Team
By Judy Vandiver

Alex stood in the outfield, his head down and his shoulders slumped. He no longer watched the infield. What did it matter? No one seemed to be able to hit the ball far enough for him to reach him. In disgust, he took the baseball glove off and flung it to the ground. Then he did what any disappointed four year old might do. He cried.

His dirty hands, swiped at the tears and left streaks of brown across his sun burned face. Alex crossed his legs as he dropped to the ground. With his elbows on his jean-clad knees, he propped his chin up with both fists. Then he cried some more.

“Time out,” bellowed the coach. All eyes watched as he walked to the outfield and knelt next to the small, frustrated boy. Alex’s mother rose from the stands and joined them. The three sat on the ground as though having a pow-wow.

Sitting on the hard wooden bleachers, I could only speculate on the conversation.  Soon, the pow-wow ended. Alex tried to erase the tears with the back of his hand.

The coach escorted Alex to a new in-field position between the pitcher and third base. Even from a distance I could see Alex’s head raise slightly with each deep breath he took. I could imagine the sound of sniffling with each lift of the dark hair. As the coach placed Alex in the newly created position, he lowered his mouth near Alex’s ear.  Alex shook his head up and down.

Alex’s mother sat next to me in the stands. “He’s frustrated, because he feels his position is useless. I thought he should stay there, but the coach is moving him in field.

“It doesn’t really matter,” she continued, “they’ve already won the game.”

“What do you mean,” I asked. “They’re still playing. The game isn’t over.”

“For the young group, the T-Ball players, each team is only allowed so many runs per inning. Alex’s team is so far ahead that even if the other team gets their maximum runs on the next two innings, they could not catch up. So even though they continue to play, Alex’s team has already won.”

“Why don’t they quit? You know, call the game?” I asked.

“Because they are giving the boys a chance to practice their game by continuing to play. They’ll be better players for having this extra time. It just won’t change the final outcome of the game.”

“Oh, I understand,” I said, even though I wasn’t sure that I did. My eyes went back to the ball field. A redheaded youngster from the opposing team moved into the batter box. He swung and missed. He swung a second time and missed again. He swung a third time and his bat met the ball, shoving it in a straight line to the right of third base.

. Alex’s face broke into a broad smile as he darted forward. The third baseman’s mouth dropped as his eyes became large and rounded. Tightening his jaw and squinting his eyes, he made a dash for the ball. At that same moment, the pitcher burst from the mound, trying to outrun Alex.

All three four year olds arrived at the ball at approximately the same instant. Alex dove for the ball, hitting the dirt hard with his entire body.  The third baseman piled on top of Alex, just before being sandwiched in when the pitcher nose-dived into the pile. The boys soon became tangled within themselves creating a ball of dust and dirt energized by six flaying arms and six thrashing tennis-shoe clad legs.

The coach again advanced onto the field. Plucking each boy from the heap, he unraveled the pile. As the pitcher and third baseman emerged empty-handed, tears flowed down their faces. Alex surfaced with the ball, but for some reason was crying as hard as the other two. The other six players on the team soon joined the trio in their bawling.

“Why are you crying?” shouted several people from the stands. “You’ve already won the game.” We sat there and watched the unhappy winning team.

Then I saw him. The little red headed boy sprinted around the bases. First, second, third, past the crying team members and on to home plate. He cheered for himself. His team cheered for him. A redheaded man in the stands cheered for him.

Alex’s team continued to cry. As their tears slowly began to subside, they walked from the field; their little bodies sagging, looking like old men returning from a weary battle, defeated and dejected.

The yells from the crowd, “But you won!” did nothing to help lift the spirits of the little boys who had played so hard. Those little boys, Alex included, went home that night looking like little puppy dogs dragging their tails.  

As I sat down that evening for my quiet time with the Lord, I prayed, “God help those little boys with their attitude. They were poor sports and didn’t realize they were victors.”

“A lot like you.” I wondered where that thought came from. Reflecting on my own life, I realized that I sometimes act like the little four year olds on the ball field.

There have been times I have not been satisfied with the position God has given me and have wanted Him to create a position more to my choosing; like when He asked me to serve as a sponsor on a mission trip for teenagers. I enlightened God with several reasons why He should choose someone else. In reality, I just wanted an easier job in the Kingdom.

I recalled Paul’s exhortation to the Christians at Corinth. “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.”[i]

God went on to reiterate that even though I do not always act like it, as a Christian, I am on the winning team. From Genesis to Revelation, God’s word reveals that He is King over the whole earth and that someday “the devil will be thrown into the lake of burning sulfur.” Although that day has not come yet, I have read the “back of the book” and know the ending.

“So why,” I asked myself, “do I sometimes whine and complain to God as if Satan were in control?” “Life is unfair. It’s too hard,” and “I can’t get through this” have been in my speech too many times.

And all the time I am complaining, my adversary, the devil, is busy running the bases. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us to “be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”[ii]

 Even now, years later, I can still picture those little boys squabbling among their own teammates instead of working together and concentrating on defeating their opponent. It is a constant reminder of how I should work to encourage fellow Christians rather than focusing on myself.

Perhaps Paul thought the same thing when he wrote to the Philippians: “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minding, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interest, but also to the interest of others.”

Alex is much older now. He has grown and matured. As I think back to the day of that T-ball game, I have to ask myself if I have grown and matured from the lessons God taught me. Some days I stand in the outfield, wondering when and if the ball will come to me. I pray that I will be not be found crying and disillusioned, but willing to play in the position the Lord gives me, doing so with a joyful heart. After all, I’m on God’s team — and we win!

The Winning Team – copyright 2009 by Judy Vandiver

[i] 1 Corinthians 12:12 NIV
[ii] 1 Peter 5:8 NIV

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Where's the Calamine Lotion?

Where’s the Calamine Lotion?
by Judy Vandiver

Earlier this year, Steve and I began a landscaping project for our backyard. This past weekend, we put some of the finishing touches on the project. The garden area is small, but relaxing, and a great place for morning devotions. As I sat outside this morning, enjoying the garden, I felt peaceful and close to God. My mind began to wander (it does that a lot) to Adam and Eve and to the closeness they had with God in their private garden.

I’m sure that in the beginning the garden was more relaxing than anything we can imagine. Banishment from this special haven must have been devastating. Let’s take a look back at what happened.

Satan tempted Eve by telling her she would be like God. Genesis 3:6-7 states:

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. (NIV)

The sin of Eve and her husband came about because they wanted to be like God. There was nothing wrong with that desire. But, they went about it in the wrong way. When they ate the fruit, they suddenly had their eyes opened. The first thing they saw was their nakedness. Two definitions of naked are: devoid of customary or natural covering and devoid of concealment or disguise.

The original couple, in the original garden, guilty of original sin, were devoid of the covering of innocence they had once enjoyed. They immediately hatched a plan to re-conceal themselves.

I imagine Eve inventing a new craft—sewing. She did not have a fancy sewing machine. She had never taken a home-economics class. But, she had to figure out a solution to her problem, and she needed to do it quick.

God saw everything as it happened. He saw Satan tempt Eve. He heard Eve give her reasons why they shouldn’t eat the fruit. He saw Eve as her hand reached forth. He probably even saw the juice of the fruit as it ran down her chin.

God watched as Eve offered the fruit to Adam. He saw Adam join Eve in her sin as he also ate of the fruit. There it was. God had caught them red-handed. He had his evidence. He could confront them now. But do you know what God did? He waited. 

I don’t know how long God waited, but it was long enough for these two earthlings to contemplate their situation (their nakedness), formulate a solution (fig leaf clothing), and physically carry out their plan (sewing the leaves together).

Can’t you hear their conversation? It may have gone something like this:

Eve:        Adam, go put some clothes on. You’re naked!
Adam:    In a minute dear. Oh, Eve—what are clothes?
Eve:        Well, I don’t really know, but I’m sure we can make some.
Adam:    How are we going to do that, dear Eve?
Eve:        Don’t be silly. We’ll sew the clothes, dear Adam, dear Adam.
Adam:    With what shall we sew them, dear Eve, dear Eve?
Eve:        With thread, dear Adam, dear Adam.
Adam:    Thread? What’s thread?

Well anyway, you get the idea. And while this little scenario was played out, God watched and continued to wait.

I wondered what was He waiting for? I believe God’s waiting was all about timing. He could have stopped Eve before she took the fruit. His booming voice could have bellowed from the heavens and said something like, “Thou shalt not eat of the fruit of the Tree of Good and Evil.” But then He had already told them that.

I don’t know about you, but whenever I told my children, “Thou shalt not,” they were even more determined that they “shalt.” Matter of fact, when my mom used to tell me “Thou Shalt Not,” I shalted. I remember one time when I was about 9 or 10. We visited my aunt and uncle in the country. They had a beautiful tree in the yard and it was loaded with yellow, shiny, gorgeous pears. Mother said, “Thou shalt not eat that fruit.”

One of my cousins said she had eaten one of the pears and it had been good. Mother had gone into the house. She couldn’t see us. She would never know. So, we ate. They weren’t the best pears I had ever eaten, but we decided Mother didn’t know what she was talking about. And we ate some more pears. It wasn’t long before those not-quite-ripe-yet pears began to have an effect on us.
Mother didn’t have to scold us or remind us what she had told us. We were already painfully aware that she had been right.

God could have bellowed out “Thou Shalt Not,” at any moment. But He had already told them that. I’m not sure it probably would have done any good at this point to repeat Himself.

God could have confronted Adam and Eve immediately when they were stunned by their nakedness. What was He waiting for?

I believe He waited long enough for several things to happen. First, He gave Adam and Eve time to realize their sin and their nakedness themselves. Note: their nakedness was not their sin, but only the outward evidence of their sin. God let what they had done sink in. It’s one thing to be told you did wrong and it’s another thing all together to “know” you did wrong. God was waiting for them to “know” it.

Next, God waited long enough for them to try to fix the problem themselves. They came up with this brilliant solution with the fig leaves. When I read that, I want to say, “Duh!” Have you ever picked figs? I have. Those fig leaves get scratchy and if any juice from the figs gets on you, you will itch and ask for the calamine lotion.

So God waited while they sewed their little fig leaves together. When they had completed their masterpiece, and just about the time they started scratching, God had waited long enough. God entered the Garden.  

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?” He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” (Genesis 3:8-10) (NIV)

Now Adam and Eve had fixed their little problem. They were no longer naked. They have these great outfits made from scratchy fig leaves. Why, then, do they run and hide when they hear God coming?

I believe they hid for the same reasons we try to hide today. Because no amount of fig leaves could hide their nakedness from God. The nakedness wasn’t on the outside. It was on the inside. God could see the nakedness and emptiness—the barrenness of their hearts.

We can dress ourselves up on the outside, say the right things, wear the right things, and to the world “do” the right things. But our hearts are still bare and naked to God. We still “know” our sins and so does our God.

God doesn’t always rush in to condemn us. Sometimes He lets us realize our dilemma on our own. He lets us try to work out our own solutions, which can often be more disastrous than itchy fig leaves. Then, when God comes, He doesn’t bellow. He comes softly in the cool of the evening, like a gentle breeze and softly asks, “Where are you? Where are you?”

God knew where Adam and Eve were. He knows where we are today. Yet He gently asks, “Where are you?” Adam and Eve had to come before God in their nakedness, in their shoddy attempt at clothing. God spelled out the consequences of their acts. Then He made them new clothes from animal skins. These kinds weren’t as itchy. 

When we come to God, we have to confess our sins to Him and we must still face the consequences of our sins. But God clothes us with a new garment, one from animal skin. This garment was created because God’s most precious lamb spilled his blood for you and me.

Adam and Eve were no longer in the Paradise God created for all mankind, but still God did not forsake them or leave them.

God does not leave us alone today. He still sees us. He still comes and asks, “Where are you?” What fig leaves have you created? What are you hiding behind? Come forward and let God clothe you with the Lamb.

Personal study questions:

What fruit have you eaten that, like the pears on my uncle’s tree, have made you ill?
What nakedness have you tried to hide from God?
What fig leaves have you created? What solutions of your own making have you tried to apply to your life?
Just as Adam and Eve sewed fig leaves together, how have you tried to carry out your plans?
God asked Adam and Eve, “Where are you?” Contemplate this question spiritually. Where are you in God’s plan for your life? Where are you in your spiritual walk?

In the Garden – copyright 2009 by Judy Vandiver