Devotional · Old Testament · Psalms

Let Me Tell You a Story – Gardenias

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I love the smell of gardenias, and living in the south as we do, we have the climate to grow those bad boys. A few years ago, my wife recognized my hankering for the smell of gardenias and bought four or five plants for our back yard.

A few years passed and this year, the “hills were alive” with the essence of gardenia. It was glorious. For approx. 2 weeks, the plants exploded in blooms, and the yard was awash in the most glorious aroma. I ended up sitting on the grass for periods of time, just downwind from one particular plant that produced more flowers than leaves. It was truly unbelievable. One of those times when the goodness of God was experienced in a very unexpected way.

Since then, my wife and I have been busy with a number of tasks that have drawn us away from the back yard, but yesterday I had a reprieve and entered our gardens out back. Our nectarine trees are full of fruit, so much so that we have had to brace the branches from snapping off – our peach tree lost the central trunk three years ago from too much fruit on it! The plums are actually producing fruit this year – a first!

God is good, and the fruits of our labor in the back yard is a reflection on the work of God in nature.

But as I mentioned earlier, the gardenia bushes were my first target, hoping to smell that smell again, but alas, the bush had browned out. The bush was still plenty healthy, with vibrant green leaves, and plenty of life, but the flower had browned. out.

Sad day to say the least, but I decided I wanted to smell that smell again, so I got my pruning shears and started “hacking” (pruning for those of you who are knowledgeable of horticulture!).

As I mentioned above, this particular bush had been thick with flowers, so the hacking was fairly extensive. As I hacked and hacked, I thought of the next crop of gardenias and the joy it would bring, and also of the last crop of gardenias and the surprise and delight we experienced with the flowers.

And then I thought of Psalm 1, where the saint is described as having seasons of fruit bearing, but that the leaves were evergreen (See Psalms for Psome – Psalm 1). This gardenia produced such an abundant harvest of flowers, and in such an unexpected time, but the season of the flower had passed. After all, it was but for a season. The leaves continued, showing life, but the fruit / flower was but for a time.

And as soon as that thought settled in my mind, John 15 also nudged it’s way into my thinking, especially when I considered that my hacking was fairly aggressive.

If my wife had been there, she may have asked my to take a little less “off the sides”, if you know what I mean. No, this bush, to produce again, needed to be aggressively hacked, reduced in size so the root stock could support vigorous growth in the future.

As God may be “hacking” at your life consider two take aways from my day in the back yard.

First – Occasional Fruit Bearing

Psalm 1 speaks of seasonal fruit bearing, and yet consistent green growth. A consistent growth based on a plants roots near to the source of water, and yet fruit bearing in its season.

Secondly – Maximum Fruit Bearing

John 15 speaks of the Master gardener “hacking” at our lives for the purpose of greater fruit bearing, whatever that fruit bearing may consist of. He may be aggressive in His “hacking” at times, but His purpose is to get rid of the brown flower – it has served its purpose – and for the bush to produce fresh flowers that will please the gardener and visitors of the garden. As the hacking hits home, remember that the hacking doesn’t hurt the root, simply the branches. Not the invisible, only the visible. Not the life, but the evidence of life at one time.

Remember the importance of the root. And hack away!


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