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In the Garden | Guest Post

by David Orrison

“And He walks with me and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.”

When I was a young pastor an older lady in my church told me that I shouldn’t use the song, “In the Garden,” because it has nothing to do with the Christian walk. She said that it was a song about lovers, rather than the Lord and His servant. I confess that I was puzzled at her words. I didn’t agree, but I didn’t understand why she would say something like that. This was an old song of the church. Surely others didn’t feel that way, did they?
Source
     Well, many years have passed since that comment and I have learned a great deal. One of the saddest things I have learned is that many, perhaps the majority, of those who consider themselves Christians have no real idea of Jesus as a friend with whom they can walk and talk and bare their hearts. Instead, they have been taught to view the Lord as a petty and vindictive manager. They try hard not to make Him angry, but live with the idea that He will never really be pleased with them. How sad!
     Sad because these poor folks go through their lives without the comfort and peace that comes from knowing the Lord as the most intimate friend. For them He truly is a God who is far away.
     Sad because so many have left the faith thinking that God is mean-spirited and inconsistent, if indeed such a god exists at all. They reject the church and the teachings of the Scriptures without ever learning that the Christian faith is first and best a relationship with the One whose love overcomes all barriers.
     Sad especially because the Scriptures are so full of the love of God for us. The whole message of the gospel is about that love. It was love that moved the heart of the Father to look past our sin. It was love that led Him to reach out to you and to me and save us through His own suffering. There is a great deal of mystery in all of this, but the message of love is consistent and loud.
     Yet, even as I grieve for those who have never known a real relationship with Jesus, I confess that, for me, living in such a relationship is infrequent. The “stuff” of this world pulls my attention away from the One who loves me and often I forget that He is there and I am secure in Him. I understand “dry” times and fear and all those emotions that come from feeling small and unloved.
     But then, when I return to those “garden” times, I find Him again and He reassures me and tells me that He has never stopped loving me. He has forgiven all my sin and I am whole and free in Him. As we walk together and talk, my confidence in Him returns and I know that His love will truly conquer all.
     Yes, Jesus is a lover far beyond any human lover. He knows my whole story and accepts me. Amazing love!
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David Orrison has been a pastor for over 30 years with a sincere desire to help people know the love and grace of the Lord Jesus.  He holds a PhD in Theology from Trinity Seminary.  He has worked with pastors and other church leaders who have been discouraged by the expectations and failures of ministry.  He has also helped parents, spouses, and young people who have been hurt by the legalistic teaching of what he calls, “performance spirituality.”  His website, www.gracefortheheart.org, and blog, http://graceformyheart.wordpress.com, have been sources of encouragement and teaching for many.  He is available for speaking engagements as well.  He and his wife, Alice, have eight sons and live in Colorado. 

3 comments:

  1. Great words!

    I struggle with how to communicate this mysterious, supernatural love between me and Jesus, and you have done it so well here.

    Can we ever really teach this? Or just give examples, little glimpses, of His rich love for us?

    Out of THAT - not fear, not judgment, not lists or commandments or even the enticing beauty of heaven - flows true obedience.

    Thank you for your words,
    Karen

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  2. Thanks, Karen!

    I have learned that, because the relationship each of us has with Jesus is so personal, so intimate, it defies any "seven easy steps" kind of teaching. All I can do is reveal that such a relationship is possible and help people to understand it probably won't come through rules and standards of behavior.

    We are called to seek Him, not just His teachings, and we are promised that those who seek Him will find Him. I tell people to settle for nothing less, to make it the primary goal of their lives to find and live in that amazing relationship with Jesus.

    I accept for myself that I experience this relationship in wonder-filled glimpses and I don't expect many of my glimpses to make sense to someone else. Yet, I sincerely want them to know that this is a reasonable and expected reality of the Christian life.

    And you are so right: obedience comes from walking with Him. It is a natural result of our oneness with Him, as are peace, strength, wisdom and so much more.

    Dave

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  3. Thank you, these are lovely thoughts.

    I have been in error as a Christian in this very area. And when I see it sometimes, my heart still shrinks in fear occasionally because I figure, yet again, that He won't love me as much (rejection) in either my self-righteousness or carelessness in my fellowship with Him and His Word.

    This puts me in mind of a little something the Lord revealed to me, as a woman, over the course of a few years. I've read about Mary, Martha's sister who chose the better part and gazed at the Lord, sitting at His feet. I can remember many times in my spirit when I would yearn to be a Mary. But in actuality I was a Martha, careful about many things.

    The wonder of it all....the Love of Jesus Christ embraces me in all places as a Christian woman. He loves me in my Martha moments, and He uses those times to chastise me and fellowship with me into the place of sitting at the feet of Jesus and choosing the better part as the sister Mary did. (Luke 10:38-42). Oh the breadth, the height, the depth of the Love of Jesus.

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