Same Garden—Different Gardener

James 1:21 (The Message)

In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.


What on earth is a salvation-garden? 

It is such a religiously loaded word isn’t it—salvation? It evokes the imagery of altars and sinners’ prayers and born again baptisms. And don’t hear me wrong. Those are good things; at least they can be. Salvation, however, is a much deeper and richer word and far transcends the typically transactional meanings it commonly evokes. 

The original word in its original language (Greek) is soteria, whose root is sozo (pronounced sodzo). It means to save by deliverance and healing. What if your life (and mine) could become a salvation-garden; a place of healing and deliverance for others. Get a picture of a garden in your mind’s eye; a beautiful, flourishing, messy garden. The tomatoes are growing out of control and need to be suckered. The peppers are too many to count; at least too many to eat. The cucumbers could stand to be trellised. Watermelons are bursting at the seams. The zinnias are starting to wilt. The basil burnishes with the green of the sun, but the cilantro could use an umbrella. 

There is so much going on in this little garden plot of your life. And, of course, there is no shortage of weeds too. And you think to yourself, “How did all this happen? I only planted a few seeds and plants. Your next thought, “There is so much work to be done here. It makes me tired to look at it.” Were this your actual backyard garden you would be exactly right. When it comes to our lives, this is exactly wrong. We are not the gardeners of our own lives. Remember our text:

In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.

Same kind of garden—different kind of gardener. Our gardener is the original Gardener, the God of heaven and earth, the Creator who began his creation in a garden. There is work for us to do, but it is a very different kind of work than we imagine. It is the work of simple humility, which looks like yielding and surrender, cultivating and waiting. Simple humility comes from nurturing the disposition it takes to passively receive something you didn’t earn, don’t deserve, and could never achieve. This is the garden plot where the fruit of the Spirit grows. When your life becomes such a place, others will be drawn to its messy beauty, nourished by its flourishing fruit, and inspired by its mysterious source. 

The fruit of the Holy Spirit is not a laundry list of impossible virtues (or worse, a duty-filled moralistic checklist) we must discipline ourselves to somehow demonstrate. No, they are the miraculous manifestations of an ordinary life sourced by an extraordinary God. 

Through my years living in Kentucky I became a deep appreciator of the farmer-poet, Wendell Berry. That’s what I want to be when I grow up—a farmer-poet. I particularly love his book-length poem entitled, The Farm. In it, Berry walks the reader through a year in the life of a simple sustenance oriented farm. I am particularly intrigued by the last line of the prologue of the poem, which itself serves as the germinal seed of the entire poem. It reads:

“The possibility of human life whose terms are Heaven’s and this earth’s.” 

Wake up sleeper. This is your destiny calling.


Farmer God, would you landscape my soul with your Word, making my life a salvation-garden. And to that end, would you teach me the ways and means of simple humility. Better yet, just train me to fix my eyes on your Son, Jesus, in whom all of this is so gloriously visible. Would you fill me with your Spirit, through whom all of this is so miraculously possible. Praying in Jesus’s name, amen.


“The possibility of human life whose terms are Heaven’s and this earth’s.” What does this poetic phrase evoke in you?

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt

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WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

Comments and Discussion

4 Responses

  1. What image does the poetic phrase “The possibility of human life whose terms are Heaven’s and this earth’s.” evoke? I believe that Genesis 2:7 says it best, “Then the Lord God formed man (adam) from the dust (adamah) of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” So now Jesus breathes into our nostrils once again the breath of Life (the Holy Spirit), and we once again inherit an eternal life.
    1 “Come, God, Creator, Holy Ghost,
    And visit Thou the souls of men;
    Fill them with graces, as Thou dost,
    Thy creatures make pure again.”
    First verse from Martin Luther’s translation of the Latin hymn VENI CREATOR SPIRITUS

  2. Christ-followers are called to live life on earth according to God’s terms and plans, not according to our own. Jesus wants to personally train and empower us to live by His presence and ability, allowing Him to continuously and freely direct us from within, and not to live by our own self-effort. Instead of trying to understand Him, God wants us to ever trust and rely on His nearness and reality — “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

    When we begin
    To let the risen Jesus
    Continually radiate
    From deep with us
    And to no longer accommodate
    The world’s corruption,
    We’ll experience
    A glorious disruption,
    An inner Holy Spirit eruption
    That will demonstrate Heaven
    Both within us and around us.

  3. The first thing I think on reading the line of poetry is:
    Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
    This is humankind at is full and complete potential. As it was created to be. As it should be. As it will be.

  4. Our Lord’s Prayer, which is the prayer of Jesus, asks Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven….we are the earth, sod, humus, dirt, dust. When we pray to Abba, Father we are seeking His Will for our lives so we become ‘as it is in Heaven’. We become the embodiment of God’s Will for the earth, man/womankind. The Light of Jesus, through His Spirit reflects the Glory of God in us on earth. A beacon for others to see and move into, for their own transformation.

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