As I mentioned on Tuesday, one of my desires this summer is to re-post some of the best of the nearly 4000 posts on the old Lent & Beyond site here on this version of Lent & Beyond. The devotional I posted by Charles Spurgeon reminded me of the following post which my colleague Torre Bissell orginally posted on Lent & Beyond in August 2005. (KB)
Lord, let us become well-watered gardens, like springs whose waters never fail.
“Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees; so they camped there by the waters.” Exodus 15:27
Lord Jesus, let the gathering of your people be a time and place of Elim springs where your people may find refreshment. When we return to our homes, let springs of living water flow out of us to our communities so that the weary and sin-sick may find rest.
A Watered Garden, by W. B. Anderson, 1919
I have a precious memory. It is the memory of a garden that I happened upon one tired midsummer’s morning, in the midst of a torrid plain in India. I was weary, and travel-stained, and thirsty, when over the drooping head of the horse, I saw a clump of trees on the far horizon. I hoped it might be a garden. It seemed ages until we should reach it. When we did arrive under the spreading branches of great mango trees, a cool zephyr, as grateful as the fanning of angels’ wings, rippled over my parched cheeks. It was still early in the day, when, swinging myself wearily from the hard seat of the springless yekka, I walked straight into the heart of the garden, down the shady aisle of mango and loquat trees. Before dawn there had been a shower of rain, and now the gardener was running the clear, cool water from the irrigating well all about among trees and shrubs. Everywhere leaves were green and flowers were bright. Parrots circled through the cloudless blue, swung upon the swaying branches, calling merrily to one another. The air was ladened with the intoxicating odors of roses and jasmine. The fountain sparkled laughingly in the shaded center of the garden. I stooped to bathe my hands and face in the cool waters of the fountain’s basin. Then, from its joyous spring I drank until satisfied. I sat for a few precious moments upon the marble edge of the fountain and reveled in the refreshment of a watered garden. The driver called, and I hurried out again across the stifling, heated plain. I had tarried for so short a time, but I was a new man. I carried away the song of the garden in my heart, and its echoes shall never die from my life.
I was making the same journey in another year. The road was more uninviting than before, the weather was hotter, and I was not only weary, but ill. But I had a memory! For hours I looked and longed for the place of the garden of refreshing. At last we came to the shade of its trees. Wearily and weakly, but eagerly, I climbed from the seat of the torturing, springless cart. With unsteady steps I entered the door of the garden. The trees were gray with dust. The flowers drooped in the heat. The little water courses were parched and dry. The fountain was stopped. My soul sank with weariness, and I turned away sick at heart to finish the torturing journey unrefreshed. At the door I met the gardener. I asked him why his garden languished so. He explained with guilty look that he had been absent attending to affairs of his own for a week. I asked him if the raja would not be vexed at the neglect of his garden. He explained that the raja had gone to the mountains for a month. Then I knew that the garden had been neglected because the master’s orders had been disobeyed. He intended that every traveler might be refreshed; but his gardener had not been faithful.
I have a precious memory. It is a memory of a friend. Sin-stricken and weary, and far from God, I was traveling one day when I came into his life. His whole life was wet with the dews of Heaven; his garments were redolent with the odors of Paradise; he just breathed the very life of God. I sat and communed with him, and from within his life there flowed into mine rivers of living water. I walked with him through lovely avenues of restful shade in his friendship, and saw heavenly vistas, and drank from life-giving springs. I went out to my life renewed and refreshed. I was a new man, and there rang through all my being a song of the memory of that blessed life. All through eternity shall the echoes of that friendship call from peak to peak for me.
In time of need and anguish I came again to that friend. I ran to meet him as a shelter from my sore distress. I found him and entered into communion with him. But the fountains of his life seemed dried up. The refreshment seemed to have vanished. His own life seemed parched and drooping. His speech was as the speech of other men. I struggled back to my own life as I came. Later he told me that the King of his life was not being obeyed, and the garden of his heart was not being watered.. The trees and the walks of his friendship were still there, but they no longer soothed and strengthened. The fountain of his friendship was still there, but its waters had been hushed. The King had intended that this garden, this life, should be kept perpetually refreshing for the souls of all who might come to it, but the King had not been obeyed, and the living water had not been kept flowing, and I went away unrefreshed.
Then I prayed, “Oh God, keep flowing into me, and within me, and from within me Thy rivers of living water for the health and joy of other men! Oh, King of life, make my life a watered garden!”
Loving The Lord by John Henry Jowett, 1863-1923
The secret of life is to love the Lord our God, and our neighbours as ourselves. But how are we to love the Lord? We cannot manufacture love. We cannot love to order. We cannot by an act of the will command its appearing. No, not in these ways is love created. Love is not a work, it is a fruit. It grows in suitable soils, and it is our part to prepare the soils. When the conditions are congenial, love appears, just as the crocus and the snowdrop appear in the congenial air of the spring.
What, then, can we do? We can seek the Lord’s society. We can think about Him. We can fill our imaginations with the grace of His life and service. We can be much with Him, talking to Him in prayer, singing to Him in praise, telling Him our yearnings and confessing to Him our defeats. And love will be quietly born. For this is how love is born between heart and heart. Two people are “much together,” and love is born! And when we are much with the Lord, we are with One who already loves us with an everlasting love. We are with One who yearns for our love and who seeks in every way to win it. “We love Him because He first loved us.” And when we truly love God, every other kind of holy love will follow. Given the fountain, the rivers are sure.