Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Garden of God's Glory

Last week we had three men from America who came to visit, to audit, and to encourage our family in Haiti.   We made no plans, only for them to come and see, and then for us to be available and obedient to the orchestra of the Lord.  His composition is so intricate that I'm compelled to simply try to follow along and keep up, and what a symphony it is!
It was a time of great blessing.
Like salve to the spirit, the men prayed with us, laughed with us, worked with us, and did life with us.
They served in humility and with respect, and they brought truth and sweet fellowship into the fields of Haiti, swinging pick-axes and hoes alongside the Haitian men in the hot sun.

Through their joy and their desire to serve they became living, breathing examples of God's law and His Word.  They were in effect living Bibles, and I watched as God did what God does best, breaking new ground in the hearts of my Haitian neighbors as they witnessed the Word coming to life through my brothers.  I saw God's ways worked out in living illustration, and it brings a fresh perspective to me as I reflect and consider the Psalmists description of the precepts of the Lord.
"...They are more precious, even more than gold, sweeter than the honey from the comb."
There was plenty of hard work and heat, but through the week there was a bond being forged between the Haitians and Americans yoked together in the field.  By the last day the men were all singing together as axes and shovels and hoes arched with the sun across the sky.   The hours ebbed and slipped away while a sweet peace began to cultivate in the heart of every soul!

 The time eventually came, and before the break of dawn we said our goodbyes.  My Christian brothers left on a bus bound for the city, and my day began once again with my Haitian brothers, out in the field. I could see them waiting for me in the circle of trees where we've built the benches.  Every morning before the work starts, there are devotions.  We read from the Bible, talk about any matters of the heart, and then we pray.  Afterward we lay out the plan for the day and then boots step out into the field to labor and chip away at hard earth. 
The men were already gathered.

Using rocks, Pastor Pompee last week felt persuaded by the Spirit to name our gardens.  Entering into the first gate there is a simple salutation written in a bed of stone on the ground, "Welcome to the Garden of God's Glory."
As I passed by it, this time without my American brothers, I felt a twinge.  A little deflated in my sails, yet encouraged by the sweetness of the time spent with them,  I knew it was my mission to carry on and continue the work.   This is the Garden of God's Glory... What might you bring this morning, Lord?  
I knew the men would feel the same way, a little down and saddened at the gaping hole my brothers had left in their absence.  
Pastor Pompee began to read from Scripture, and I noted shoulders... a little droopy.  I caught a sigh, a shrug, but then the Word began to seep into the dry places, and I saw hope filling, hearts inflating.
Ahhhhhhh, here is the Lord, and He's filling in the holes, replacing what was emptied with His enduring goodness.  

Pompee continued in Matthew 13... a parable from the lips of Jesus...
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field."
A word came running into my thoughts like a flash of lightning breaking across a darkened, stormy sky.   I swung on my heels for the house to grab a bag and some money.   I couldn't enter into our beautiful home with my muddy boots, not if I valued my life, so Kari got it for me.  She gave me a look that I've seen many times before, a look that says, "What in the world are you up to now?"
"Trust me." I said.   "This is gonna be awesome, it's the Parable of the Hidden Treasure!" I yelled as I went running for the field.    I caught a glimpse of her smile as I rounded the corner and sprinted down the path to where the men were just finishing up.
I passed them in a flash and stepped out into the new field where we've just cracked and plowed the ground with the oxen.   I walked here and there, covertly.  I stopped now and then, knelt down, picked up some things and hid the money before returning to the circle where the men were waiting.   I could see they were very confused by the crazy irregularity of my actions, but I also know they've come to expect a little weirdness from me.
I was out of breath, so I just threw down everything I was carrying at their feet.
"You can find just about anything out in those fields, can't you?" I smiled.   These men are farmers.  They all smiled too.
"Here's a piece of rope, a rock, some garbage, a plastic bottle, and a branch.  Plenty of worthless things.  Ordinary, bland, nothing special as you labor in the hot sun...But imagine if you stumbled upon some treasure!  Wow!   What might you do?  Do you see the picture that Jesus is painting?  You'd cover it up and walk directly to your house.  The hoe would still be standing in the field.   You'd forget to bring it in.  You'd quietly round up anything of value and you'd start selling it to anyone willing to buy.  You're gonna buy that field.  It isn't yours now, but it will be, and once the paper is signed, everything is yours! How suspicious might your neighbors become as you tried with your best poker face to sell everything? Ha!
Imagine it! "Yes, I um... ahem.....I've decided it's time to buy that field out behind my house....ahem...alot of work there you know....ahem...gonna plant a crop...I know it's expensive....How much?!  You think I'm rich! he-he.....ahem.... I mean, I'll take's the money, just sign right there (as you try not to jump up and down)........yes, just sign, right.....THERE!   WOOO-HOOOO!!!!!!"

The men were laughing as I illustrated my story, jumping up and down.  They are such a story-telling people.  This is the way they love to learn.  

"Yesterday I heard you all laughing while you worked with my American friends.  Then I heard you singing together.  There was joy.  Real joy, and by the face of some of you men I could see you've never experienced that kind of peace in the field."
They nodded their heads in agreement.  We all knew it to be true.  
"Yesterday I think you discovered something.  Treasure in the field!  You felt it in your hearts, and it comes from God."  
There were smiles and hope all around me.  God's seed had dropped into the cracked earth as softened hearts of hardened men received His message.   But I still wanted them to seek and hunt and search.

"Today I've hidden some treasure in the field.  Maybe you'll find it.  Maybe you won't.  You'll have to seek it.  You'll find some things that are worthless, but someone just might discover it!  I only ask that when you see a man has found it, when you see him jumping up and down, encourage him and be glad for him.  Don't knock him down, don't be jealous.   When you see the joy in his face, you'll see what Jesus was trying to tell us.  You'll will understand."

We prayed and started to break up for our work.  The men were all happy, but I was curious because none were as excited as I thought they might be.  At just that moment another man came strolling in late. There's a standing rule we've made, the men who are on time have to explain and catch up the man who is late. They don't yet enjoy it, but it's good practice and it will become a habit. 
"Edain!  You're late!" I barked. He jumped.  "Because you're late, you don't know, you haven't heard the good news!  That's so sad! Good thing you have brothers. Who is going to tell Edain the good news?" I said. 
One of the men started in, and word for word explained absolutely everything I had shared, right down to the reason for the rope and garbage and the things I'd found in the field....all except the part about the treasure I'd hidden.   They were all just about to break up again for work when I stopped them.
"Wait a minute!" I said. "Why didn't you tell him about the treasure I hid in the field?"
Every man froze.
Heels whirled and men spun back in my direction.
"Hold on!  You mean, you actually hid some treasure in the field?!" One man said.   
Every eye was wide.  Mouths were falling open.   Muscles were stiffening, some were holding their breath.
That's when it dawned on me.  They thought I was only speaking in a metaphor!  
"Yes! I hid some treasure in that field.  A little gift from me to you."

Out into the field they went with a bounce in their step, hope filled and ready, and the dirt began to fly.
One man, Pierre, stayed behind to build a nursery for some new seeds, and he was content not to search for the treasure.   He'd already made plans for his work and he wasn't going to let that get in the way. He's also the only Christian among the workers so far. He's already found his treasure.  I respected that.   

Late in the day, in the throws of hard work and exhaustion, one of the men finally stumbled upon the treasure.  It was Edain, the man who'd come to work late!   How fitting for God to put icing on the cake and make the story sink deeper into hearts.   The men were all telling me of his joy when he discovered it.   Some laughed about his expression.  Others told me how one man even dropped to his knees and sincerely lifted up his hands to heaven, a man who is just now coming into an understanding of God.
But then God did something even more grand.   He wanted to add an exclamation mark instead of a period.  He wanted to drive home His lesson, and so he pricked the heart of Edain.  
"I'm sharing my treasure with every man here!" He proclaimed.   "I want all of you to have some!"
And instantly everyone felt in their heart something that could never be quite fully explained.  
Every man had hope.  Every man had joy.  Every man was invited in and included in something bigger than themselves. Every man, you might say, took communion in the glory of God and His ways. 
Yes, Lord.  You are so awesome to me.  I will never comprehend Your beauty.  I will never understand Your majesty or Your love. But I will share it with any who will listen!  
Ahhhhhh!   The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure, and we've found it in "The Garden of God's Glory."

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