Friday, May 24, 2013

The Mayapple is Like a Hidden Treasure (Proverbs 2:1-5)

Proverbs 2:1-5 (NASB):
1 My son, if you will receive my words and treasure my commandments within you,
2 Make your ear attentive to wisdom, incline your heart to understanding;
3 For if you cry for discernment, lift your voice for understanding;
4 If you seek her as silver and search for her as for hidden treasures;
5 Then you will discern the fear of the LORD and discover the knowledge of God.

The search for wisdom is like the search for hidden treasure. It is like the sudden discovery of the treasures of the Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum), a plant of the forest that looks somewhat like an umbrella. Many will pass this beauty by, and some will find the secret it beholds.

In our Gethsemane Prayer Garden, we have a section of Mayapple that grows under the tall canopy of some black willow trees. Other flowers such as astilbe, vinca minor, hosta, and bush clover are also planted in this area. It is a refreshing and relaxing spot, somewhat secluded from the rest of the garden. This location was selected to preserve the May apples that have been growing there many years before this prayer garden was ever conceived.

Sitting above this peaceful area is a wooden bench where one's mind can wander away from the fast activity of life. The Scripture above states, "Make your ear attentive", and "incline your heart", and "cry for discernment", and "lift your voice", and "seek … and search", then you will "discern … and discover".

Most people do not know the flower is there although some will hear about it from someone else. We do not normally find it because we are not looking for it. Yet an attitude of diligently seeking allows us to uncover hidden treasures such as the Mayapple. It is an attitude that says, "Lord, I want all you have for me."

I believe that the wisdom described in Proverbs 2:1-5 is supernatural wisdom. To me, it is not what is generated from the intelligence of our minds, but rather it is what is given by our Lord. It is a gift from our most generous and loving God.

Many people have heard about the gifts of the Holy Spirit; some reject it with steadfast authority, some seek it but do not discern anything unusual or different, and some receive it as the hidden treasure that God intended.

I am convinced that finding and then opening this gift is because of the attitude we have in approaching the Holy Spirit. Yes there is certainly the aspect that it is hidden, but there is also the aspect of sudden discovery that is far more beautiful, wonderful, and powerful than one would have expected.

Proverbs 2:6-11 (NASB):
6 For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.
7 He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity,
8 Guarding the paths of justice, and He preserves the way of His godly ones.
9 Then you will discern righteousness and justice and equity and every good course.
10 For wisdom will enter your heart and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;
11 Discretion will guard you, understanding will watch over you.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Cushion Spurge Sings Praise to Yahweh (Psalm 113)

When I initially look at the cushion spurge (Euphorbia polychroma), the brilliant yellow clusters remind me of the sun in its fullness. Even though this photo was taken in the early morning, the abundance of golden hues fill the spectrum. Contrasted to the browns and greens that provide a backdrop to any landscape, these bright groupings draw attention to themselves.

Beyond the initial look, a closer look at the clusters reveal a more fascinating aspect of this flower: many are in groups of five. Not all have five, but many.

For those that look into the meaning of numbers in the Scriptures, five is the number of grace. That is why Psalm 113 was selected for this flower. Yahweh raises the poor and lifts the needy; He gives help to the childless woman. Positions are changed, not because we deserve it, but because He is Yahweh!

Psalm 113:1-9 (HCSB):
1 Hallelujah! Give praise, servants of Yahweh; praise the name of Yahweh.
2 Let the name of Yahweh be praised both now and forever.
3 From the rising of the sun to its setting, let the name of Yahweh be praised.
4 Yahweh is exalted above all the nations, His glory above the heavens.
5 Who is like Yahweh our God — the One enthroned on high,
6 who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth?
7 He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the garbage pile
8 in order to seat them with nobles — with the nobles of His people.
9 He gives the childless woman a household, making her the joyful mother of children.

This Psalm points to our need – without Yahweh, we are all needy. Yahweh is the grace giver, not because we are entitled to it, but because of who He is.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Primrose Symbolizes Humility (James 4:6,7)

As the Scriptures say, 'God opposes the proud but favors the humble.' So humble yourselves before God (James 4:6,7 NLT)

As the snow begins to recede in the Gethsemane Prayer Garden each spring, the first flower to show itself is the primrose. Their splashes of color sends a joyous message which continues from late March through June. Consistently people stop me to speak in some way about the brilliant colors yet their very short 6-inch height. To me, it reminds me of the favor that the Lord grants to those that exhibit humility.

We have a small but vibrant area dedicated to our Pacific Giant Primroses. The names of our individual cultivars were never recorded – it is the bold red, violet, yellow, pink, blue, and white pigmentation with brilliant yellow centers that brought us to the decision to purchase each one.

Primrose (Primula X polyantha) generally prefer a shady location. We grow ours in the full sun until July when a large cluster of Russian sage adds considerable shade to the primrose bed. At that point, most visitors never see the primrose as it is hidden by the much larger Russian sage. That is the way of humility, is it not?

Every four or five years we have to replenish our inventory of primroses. Possibly some get pulled by the naive volunteer that is zealous to weed. Recently we discovered that spider mites may be attacking the primrose, possibly causing the weaker ones to die off. We will spray – I do not believe that humility means we allow ourselves to be eaten alive.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Bleeding Heart Flower Suggests A Heart of Compassion (1 Peter 3:8)

"All of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with one another. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude."
(1 Peter 3:8)

Spring means many things to many people: a time of new beginnings as green growth emerges from last year's exhausted splendor; a time to enjoy short or sometimes long walks as the days are warmer and usually not too hot; a time to listen to birds with their many melodies of happiness, some that sing for a mate and some that sing because they just want to; for the flowers that emerge early, a time to bathe in their wholeness that are unhampered by outdoor insects that chew away at the leaves or petals; and for the gardener, a time to accomplish a tremendous amount of cleanup and preparation work while the soil is still moist and most perennials are small.

In April and May, I typically spend more hours in the perennial garden than all other months combined. Our Gethsemane Prayer Garden is a half-acre of flower beds, an acre of lawn, and another half-acre of undeveloped brush land that is yet to be cleared. After the winter debris was removed, nearly forty yards of mulch were applied to eight of the flower beds. I try to do this early, before the new plant growth gets in the way of mulch application – that is, before the bleeding heart open.

I use the old-fashioned bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis) as my measure to see if I can get it all done in time – this year I did and I am thankful for the help that was provided. The bleeding heart is a delicate pink and white flower that prefers to grow in the shade. The heart-shaped pendulums remind us of compassion and love.