Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east… -Genesis 2:8a
I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. -John 15:1 NLT
God the Father, the Maker of Heaven and Earth, was the first Gardener. He was not a farmer selling His goods in markets and roadside stands. He seeded, created, watered, and pruned for His own pleasure. He would not need the food that grew there to sustain Him; instead He desired the glory from the One who Himself would become the food of the brokenhearted.
Just as a gardener receives honor and recognition for their works with their plants and the arrangement of those plants, so God gets glory from our lives as the Gardener of our hearts. He sees each leaf and branch that have wilted or dried up, and He breaks them off with His own hands in hopes that we might still bear good fruit.
We are all plants grown from the soil He made. He causes it to rain and shine on both the just and the unjust, to those whom justice has been shown and to those exhausted who wait for justice.
He is a gentle Gardener, full of gladness and quiet. Although His hands are worn beyond time and His eyes were full of love before stardust, He makes His garden in our hearts when we allow Him inside. Then He will teach us how to keep the garden, redeeming our weapons of chaos to become the tools of His trade: mercy.
He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. -Isaiah 2:4
Mary (Magdalene) was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in. She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying. “Dear woman, why are you crying?” the angels asked her.
“Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”
She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. “Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?”
She thought he was the gardener. -John 20:11-15 NLT
(I meant to post this during the fall…. would have made more sense then, but better late than nothing at all)
The geese are all fleeing for the south
Chased by winter’s warring shouts
Driven by northern, swollen winds
The kind of cold that shakes you in your shins, Too temperamental to endure They seek a tepid temperature
They pause for formidable fishing
As the hunter’s hits are merely missing
Like scissors spinning past their weightless wings
They clamor, cackle, and call among other things, Their flustering alarms beget more flight As they course toward clouds with myriad might
They yell at the yellow yielded crops
Their squawks fell like dripping drops
Like the summer’s roaring rain
Resounds individually yet the same, All birds of an identical feather Wings beating till the end of never
The pink peach sun slips slowly behind pines
The sinking sky shares her heady harvest wine
She supplies the sweetness and delirious delights
And no one sips more than the fowl in their flight, Their calls mingling in the moon’s waning stare Singing their winter song for anyone who cares
This was one of my favorite songs I wrote in 2012. I have not done an audio recording of it yet, and I can’t say it’s really finished as a work of art. But I know part of my appreciation for it comes because I was fairly emotional in the moment when I wrote what I’ve written thus far. “I’m quick to accuse, but slow to repentance. Lord, may I not be slow.” I would like to constantly live in a place of extending forgiveness and asking/receiving forgiveness.
(special thanks to my good buddy Stephen Stonestreet who made this video for me when I begged him to stop at the New River Gorge on our mini tour last summer)
The young, yearning oak yields her green in the summer
Before her leaves fear the fall
I was like her both eager and cunning
But now I can see where I’m wrong
How many times must I ask for forgiveness
Before I can recognize my fault?
I’m quick to accuse but slow to repentance
Lord, may I not be slow
Lord, make me like some red leaf in the summer
To remind the trees of their call
The ground takes no prisoners no matter their beauty
Let Your wind sweep away us all
Last year for me began much like it ended for most people in the US- cold and fraught with exciting, uncertain potential. I had some idea of what to expect but no idea about the beauty and challenges that lay in wait.
2012 was the year I got engaged, and the year I got married to the most inspiring, incredible woman. It was the same year that many family members, friends, and acquaintances rallied around me to help me release my first full length album (and I am still blown away by everyone’s generosity). It was a year of touring with buddies and playing music in living rooms, cafes, parks, street corners, auditoriums, convention centers- all for strangers, God, and friends alike. Few journal entries were made as I found myself speechless or without words at the end of each day, each week, each month, and I still can’t find the right words to explain the whole year: for the beauty and joy of all of it.
Last year was also a time of struggling with my pride and my fear. Often times the challenges before me were not circumstantial, but they were mostly internal conflict with myself, with darkness, and with God. But it was an appointed time to be emptied so I could be filled with what I actually needed: the Love of God. This Love was demonstrated not only in personal, spiritual ways but through countless acts of tenderness and sacrifice of people who helped me get back up along the way.
I am in a deep debt of gratitude and love to every person (every one of you!) who has been a part of this chapter of my life. It would be impossible to repay the kindness and faith of all the warm loving people around Megan and I. Looking back on the year I see so many sunrises, sunsets, and the beautiful faces of people I met as well as people I know very closely. I see the faces of my family, my friends, and my exquisite bride. I see my Lord Jesus in every face, and I know I am not closer to him in proximity, but I feel closer because I realize more and more that He has been everywhere all along.
Sleeping on couches, floors, and everything else; traveling in country and out of country; talking continuously on a cell phone to book benefit events, concerts, and maintain a long-distance love friendship; three years of continual movement and opportunity including all 50 states- I now enter a brief stationary season for which I am grateful.
This next year will be undoubtedly as wild as the last with even more sunrises, sunsets, faces, and experiences. Although these things are tangible and known, there are greater works of goodness looming in potential for anyone with faith to reach out and do them.
Maybe you are wondering what this next year will look like for you. Maybe you’re not into religion and maybe you’re not into new years resolutions or lofty goals. I would offer three thoughts for anyone: talk with God like He is in the room with you (because He is), listen to and love the people who are overlooked (because they are agents of God), and take MUCH BIGGER risks (because God is searching for faith in humans).
Thank you so much to every one of you, dear friends. May God shine on you, and Happy New Year 🙂
ps My wife is incredible. But that’s not all. She has a program called Love and Scissors that teaches the trade of hairstyling to women and men coming out of sex trafficking. Check it out! LoveAndScissors.com