// Jeanne DeTellis O’Connor
A garden is a place of beauty, flowers, rest and sustenance, and most of us enjoy seeing gardens or having our own garden.
The Bible tells us of the first garden of life—one where a man and a woman enjoyed life with each other and had sweet fellowship with God. When sin entered the world through this man and woman, the garden experienced change. It changed for the worse.
When I first met Dennis, he was happy to show me his country garden. He had a flowing waterfall surrounded by terraced layers of flowers in his garden. It seemed there was constantly another new flower budding. I didn’t know the names of all the flowers, but I knew that the deep purple irises were in full bloom by my birthday in June. Dennis spent hours keeping the flower gardens tended and loved to purchase new flowers every spring. Gardening was a love in his life. When he reached the final stages of mesothelioma lung cancer in our home, a loving hospice nurse, Cindi, sang all three verses of the hymn “In The Garden” to Dennis. In loving memory of this precious man, we are creating a garden as part of our new church construction in Los Castillos, Dominican Republic. This was the land Dennis last walked—having faith to see the next mission.
There was another garden that is so important for every one of us—and that is the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus often went to this garden with His disciples—perhaps to rest, to find seclusion, or to share His teachings. But the very last time Jesus went to the garden, it was to surrender…to do the will of His Father. In John 18:11, when Jesus was addressing His disciple Peter, He said, “Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?” Jesus was referring to the coming sufferings of the cross of Calvary where as King of the Jews, He gave His life in place of our sins, in order that we can find a new life through Him. In another passage, as Jesus intensely prays in the garden, He talks with His Father and says, “My Father, if this cannot pass by unless I drink it, Your will be done.” (Matthew 26:42)
Jesus surrendered. His power as the Son of God could have stopped the torture and process of the crucifixion. Those who ordered the crucifixion feared the surrender was temporary. They feared they could not hold Jesus in the ground. A massive stone was rolled in front of the tomb, and then it was sealed with a soft clay-like substance, that was imprinted with the Roman imperial seal. Roman soldiers stood by the sealed tomb to keep watch. The surrender was not a loss, but was the greatest gain for you and for me. His death and suffering brought a resurrection—a new day, a new life, and a new beginning for those who believe in Him.
Do you have a garden? Are you in a place of surrender? Be confident that places of surrender are not places of loss in Christ Jesus, because He lives. Jesus lives! “He walks with me and talks with me, and He tells me I am His own.” Our new life in Christ is the beginning of eternity.