I love my garden, but it is with the help of my gardener that it looks as beautiful as it does. He essentially does all the hard work, if I had to be honest. If it wasn’t for him, it would be full of weeds. I like to think though, that I am the master gardener, the one who is in charge, who gives instruction at the appointed time and knows the plans for the garden.
In John 15, Jesus says that the Father is the master gardener (verse 1), and He (Jesus) is the vine. We are grafted (Romans 11) into the vine, planted into God the Father’s garden, so that we may bear much fruit and bring glory to Him (John 15:8). We are a planting of the Lord, because the scion (the bud that is grafted in) is dead on its own, but in Jesus (the vine or rootstock that we are grafted into) we receive a new life and a new purpose, going on the bear much fruit.
So that we, as it says in Isaiah 61:3, may receive “a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of the spirit of despair.”
Then it goes on to say, reading in the Amplified version: “So they will be called the trees of righteousness [strong and magnificent, distinguished for integrity, justice, and right standing with God], The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.
The seed of Christ is planted in us (1 John 3:9 ) and we become the seed planted in the world (Gal 3:29) as was promised to Abraham. Now this seed of Christ grows in us, as we grow up in our salvation, so that we may bear fruit.
Across cultures trees traditionally symbolize spiritual nourishment, transformation, growth, freedom and unity. We are also described as trees, oaks, palms, cedars etc in scripture.
The trees of the Lord are well watered, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted. (Psalm 104:16)
The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God.
They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green,
proclaiming, ‘The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.’ (Psalm 92:12-15)
Landscapers will tell you that trees impact a landscape in which they are placed. Creating atmosphere: both in quality of air and enclosing spaces, creating habitat, shade, shelter and a canopy to prevent moisture loss. Trees define spaces, mark boundaries, create features and form links between areas where people live. They create places for animals, birds, insects to shelter and procreate.
So too, we as spiritual trees are planted in specific places to change and impact the spiritual and social landscape of the world we are living in.
‘The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. “For in him we live and move and have our being.” As some of your own poets have said, “We are his offspring.” (Acts 17:24-28 my emphasis)
We, you and I, are planted exactly where we are on this earth, at this time of history, “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). We are a planting of the Lord, to be oaks of righteousness, fragrant cedars of strength, palms in an oasis for a spiritually dry world. I don’t know about you, but this excites me.
Thank you, Lord, that You grabbed a hold of my life and called me into a relationship with You, by providing for my sin by Jesus’ death on the cross. I am forever changed as Christ lives in me. Help me to grow up in my salvation, to become the person You want me to be. To become strong in my relationship with You and change the spiritual climate and landscape of the world around me, so that You may be glorified in my life.