This is an update to the following poem that was posted November 9, 2016.
“A Planting of the Lord”
I was a new seed planted in old soil
Oh, the challenges that awaited me
I knew not the long hours I would toil
For a dream that was not meant to be
The sun was harsh, no rain came down
I became a dry sprout on rocky ground
I cried out to you to intervene
But my prideful heart had not come clean
Out of your mercy you heard my cries
With love my dry soil you fertilized
You brought out the SONshine that filled my soul
You gave me nutrients that would make me whole
My stems grew stronger day by day
As I plunged in your word and started to pray
I’m no longer a seed nor am I a flower in bloom
I’m still a bud with a lot of growth room
The soil around me can still get hard and dry
But I now look to the one who gave me new life
I know when I see him face to face
I’ll be a beautiful flower in a heavenly place.
It’s been seventeen years since I penned those words in response to the Beth Moore Bible study A Heart Like His. A great deal has happened in those seventeen years, but I can honestly say these words still ring true for me today. I remember the words “planting of the Lord” jumped off the page when studying Isaiah 61. Maybe that’s because every Spring I enjoy digging in the soil and carefully depositing the fragile, young plants in their new home whether it be pots on the deck or beds around my yard. Then for the next five to six months I water, fertilize and prune for maximum growth. This sounds exactly like what God does to us!
Recently, while reading Isaiah 61, I took the focus off of me as the planting of the Lord and began focusing on who God is and what he has done through his Son Jesus and what He will do through the Holy Spirit living inside of me. Isaiah 61:3 tells us all the things the one anointed by the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord will do. We know from Luke 4:18-19 that Isaiah was prophesying about Jesus. At the end of verse 3 we discover that the recipients of all these divine gifts “will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.” I don’t think it matters if we are an oak tree or a gorgeous flowery plant as long as it’s God who plants us with his righteousness that comes only from Christ and we display His splendor.
There’s no question as to who these recipients are according to this same verse – the poor, the brokenhearted, the captives, the prisoners and all who grieve and mourn. As a middle class, baby boomer born and raised in a Christian family in the Bible Belt of the South, I have in the past erroneously concluded that I am none of the above. But as I pondered these descriptions I realized…
I am not poor economically, but I am poor spiritually when I spend all my energy on living like the world and not relying on God for wisdom and strength.
I am not brokenhearted like those who have been rejected by a spouse or close friend, but there have been certain circumstances that have broken my heart.
I am not a captive with chains around my neck, but I’ve been held captive by my greatest adversary way too many times to count and I am still breaking free from his many lies I’ve believed over the years.
I am not a prisoner waiting to be released from jail or living out my life in a 10’ x 10’ cell, but I was a prisoner sitting on death row until Jesus rescued me by taking my punishment on the cross.
I am not mourning the deaths of close loved ones because they are living with Jesus, but I have mourned over my own sins and what could have been if I had done things God’s way from the beginning.
Although Isaiah was speaking of Jesus, I too can do the things that Jesus did through the power of the Holy Spirit living in me, helping others become a tree (or flower) of righteousness, a planting of the Lord. I can “proclaim good news to the poor, bind up the brokenhearted, proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners…. and comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve” (Isaiah 61:1-3). I don’t have to look too far in my world to find someone who needs to know there is hope and his name is Jesus.
The next eight verses (Isaiah 61:4-11) describe the results of these actions. They include rebuilding, restoration, and renewal as well as inheritance, everlasting joy and being blessed by the Lord. I personally have experienced some of these and witnessed them in others. One such person is my eighty-five years “young” mother. For many years early in her marriage she dealt with a loving, God-fearing, depressed Christian spouse. I know that sounds like an oxy-moron, but it can and does happen more than we like to admit. I’m sure there were times she was brokenhearted and felt like a prisoner herself. After fifty-two years of marriage, her husband, my father went home to be with Jesus. She grieved and mourned and I am sure there are still days that she does this even though it’s been eleven years since his passing. But her faith in what Jesus promised is firm, knowing she will see Jesus and her husband again. Not only has Jesus been her comfort, but he has provided for her. For nine years she lived alone in their house in the mountains surrounded by friends that God graciously put in her life. Two years ago God made the arrangements for to move in with my sister and her husband and then sold her house in His perfect timing. The revenue from the sell of the house will equip her with the necessary funds to live for many years as she begins a new adventure in an independent senior living complex. Isaiah 61:7b says, “And so you will inherit a double portion in your land and everlasting joy will by yours.” Mom’s house sold for just about twice the amount they paid for it twenty-five years ago! God is so good!
Isaiah 61:8 says, “I the Lord love justice; I hate robbery and wrong doing. In my faithfulness I will reward my people…” The end of the verse says, “All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the Lord has blessed.” These words describe my mother has been rewarded and blessed by God in her body, mind and spirit. Just this week we secured an apartment for her at the independent living complex for almost half the asking price! Again, God is good!
So, whether you are a flower, bush or tree as a planting of the Lord, remember that you too have been anointed to help others become that planting to display God’s splendor. All you need is the Sonshine, Living Water and the fertilizer of the Word.