Return to the Garden (Lent) - Saturday, February 24

lent 2018 devotions lutheran indian ministries

"When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples… 
where there was a garden… for Jesus often met there with his disciples."
John 18:1-2 (NIV)

For me, there is something healing about digging in the dirt. My parents both came from a family of farmers. Perhaps, it is part of my DNA. Sometimes I wonder what it was in creation that spoke to the man, Jesus. Taught to work with wood by Joseph, His earthly father, did He sometimes run His hands over a well-finished piece of furniture and enjoy its smoothness or pleasant lines and craftsmanship? Scriptures do not tell us.

We are told, however, that He spent time in the garden. It didn’t look like the garden He created. This one had weeds, just like mine. I think most of us get a mental picture of Jesus kneeling with hands folded or sitting on a bench leaning against the trunk of a tree with eyes closed as He rested. Certainly, He communed with the Father there just like He did on the night of His betrayal while the rest of His flock slept. But what if, like many of us who garden, His rest came by digging in the dirt?  

In many of His parables describing the Kingdom of Heaven, He used the subject of farming. There was the parable of the wheat and the weeds in Matthew 13, and the mustard seed in Mark 4, and the story of the farmer scattering seed in Luke 8. Perhaps, Jesus recharged after a long day by digging in the dirt. And perhaps, while He was there in the garden, He prayed to his Father and wept over the stiff-necked people He loved and was sent to save.

I honestly don’t know why the Creator loves us so much that He sent His Son to die to bring us back to Himself. I know that my sin changed the garden.  And, as I dig among my beloved perennials and the weeds that try to overtake them, I pray for the First Nations people we serve and weep for them and myself. In the garden, I unburden my heart and talk to the Lord about my frustrations, doubts, fears, anxieties, and physical weariness as we minister to the Native people – His people.

And I am drawn back to the foot of the cross, where my sins were washed away, where Jesus took all of my burdens upon Himself. He is preparing a place for me, for us, for all His people. He is coming soon to take us home. What blessed Easter news!

Thank you, loving Father for sending your dear Son to die for us. May we rest in you as we continue to tend the garden you have planted us in. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Rosemary Sternbeck
Fairbanks, Alaska