It’s been hot this past week. Living in northern Wisconsin, I don’t always spend much time watering my flowers. In Nebraska, where I grew up, the farmers spend all summer irrigating. The rains are few and far between, and crops would soon dry up if they didn’t receive a steady supply of water. On the other hand, we in Wisconsin have what would be termed “dry land corn” by farmers in my home state. We plant, cultivate and then go fishing; leaving the bother of irrigating up to God. And He is faithful; usually sending timely rains, producing beautiful crops of corn year after year.
I take the same attitude with my garden and flower beds. I like to plant, may pull a few weeds, and rarely feel the urge to water, knowing that if I just wait long enough, the rains will come. Today was different. My flowers were looking at me with rather thirsty expressions, after some days in the high 80’s and I suddenly realized, they were depending on me for the steady supply of water they hadn’t received. After going to the trouble of dragging my garden hose all the way around the house to reach my parched patch of color, I was glad to stand and rest awhile, with my hand on the trigger of my trusty sprinkler gun. Who knew watering flowers could suddenly move me to tears.
The sun’s rays were intense, and as I felt the mist blowing back over my face, I looked aside at my favorite bunch of deep red lilies. And that’s when it hit me. A sudden rush of emotion and tears on my cheeks; for all of them seemed to have their bright little faces turned gratefully towards mine and what’s more, they all looked as if they were appointed by God to cheer me.
I recently found a gem of an old book on my mother’s bookshelf. No one wrote their name in it, claiming it for their own, but I like to think it cheered the heart of my father, whom I never really knew, or maybe even his mother before him. It was published first in 1901, by Mary Wilder Tileston, and the copy I found is a small, hard-cover one in mint condition. It is called Joy and Strength and it is a lovely collection of writings meant to be read as daily devotionals. Every single reading has been timely, and I can hardly wait to sit in my garden with my morning cup of coffee, to see what God has for me each day.
The poem that Mary Tileston chose to share on July 17th (the morning I watered my lilies,) was written by Gerhard Tersteegen (1629-1769,) a German Pietist who spoke so deeply of the things of God that hundreds crowded into his home to hear him speak, ”often putting ladders up to the windows to be able to hear him.”(www.Path2Prayer) I’ll share his poem with you this morning, and you won’t even have to put a ladder up to my window to hear it!
Come, children. Let us go
Our Father is our guide;
And when the way grows steep and dark,
He journeys at our side.
Our spirits He would cheer,
The sunshine of His love
Revives and helps us as we rove,
Ah, blest our lot e’en here!
Author of the book, The Spiritual Combat, Lorenzo Scupoli (1530-1610), says it well; “Delight in the happiness of God. “ (Scupoli, 196)