Years ago when my daughters were small, we watched the Hallmark movie, The Secret Garden. Together we loved the adventure, the peril, the unknown, and the way the story unfolded. From the edge of our seats, we watched the main character, Mary Lennox , transition from losing her home and her parents in India to finding a home with a distant relative on a large English estate half way around the world. When she arrives, she finds herself surrounded by other people who seem to be locked in sadness as well. She walks about the property and finds a walled garden with a locked door. Discovering where the key is hidden, she enters a place that has had no care for many years. The garden is like her heart and the hearts of those around her with overgrown vines, weeds, and no color.
The garden becomes her focus and she shares it with her two new friends, Colin and Dickon. Dickon can see beyond the garden’s current condition and tells her “When the old wood is cut back, there will be roses.” “Roses?!” Mary exclaims. Dickon nods and continues, “There will be curtains and fountains of roses.” It inspires hope in her sad heart to believe for new life, and the three decide to try to restore the garden to its original beauty. As the garden is worked and reawakened, so is her spirit. The three children together discover hope and joy in their work to make the garden beautiful once again.
Shaped by our upbringing and life experience, our lives can look like a forgotten garden with lots of weeds and dead growth. Or it can have green, living things in one area and be full of crowded vines in another. Most of us have places that are locked away – places we hope no one sees. As a believer in Jesus Christ, I know that He has the power to heal and restore and desires to do that work in my life. But I can’t sit around waiting for it to happen. Just like Mary, Dickon, and Colin had to put forth effort in restoring the garden, I too have to do my part in cooperating with God to see change in my own life. Similar to Dickon, when God looks at my life, He can see more than what is currently- He sees the original.
When Mary Lennox found the key to the garden, that key let her inside, but there was still extensive work needed to help the roses bloom again. When a person realizes their need of forgiveness and in prayer comes to Jesus, that decision let’s Him enter their life, but cleansing and healing work needs to take place over time to bring the change necessary so the individual can enjoy the freedom that a growing relationship with God can give. When you watch a person learn to walk with God, you see a transformation and renewal take place.
That moment when we ask Jesus to forgive us and be our Savior is the beginning of a life with Him. As we learn to walk with Him, God does a cleansing, restoring work in us and helps the roses of our life bloom again. We come to understand more of the love God has for us. He is a gentle, caring Father who loves us unconditionally. That means that our mistakes or even deliberate sin cannot make Him stop loving us. He knows where we struggle, He knows what dead growth needs to be cut away or what weeds need to be pulled. For that to happen, we learn to spend time reading the Bible and talking to Him. We learn how it feels when He puts His finger on something in our lives that He wants to make better. We even learn what His voice sounds like.
At the end of The Secret Garden, Colin and Mary, their lives restored, have grown up and fallen in love. Serving in the army, Colin has written to her several times asking her to marry him and received no reply. She waits for him to return home and he finds her in the garden. When questioned, she explains, “I wanted you to ask me here in our garden.” Life and love have come full circle in restoration.
As we walk with Him and allow Him into the secret, locked places of our life, He works continually to bring healing where it is needed – and we gradually learn to understand and receive His love. So here’s the thing: let Him love you. Ask Him to sort through the stuff of life. Invite Him into every room. He can refashion and redecorate the places we are afraid for anyone to see. Like a garden, He can take a life and make it beautiful. Yes, even mine. Yes, even yours.
Isaiah 43:18-19, Isaiah 61, Hosea 14:4-7, Matthew 5, 1 Peter 5:10-11, Revelation 22:17
(c) March 2010, Robin Lawrimore