If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings. Isa. 58:9-12
Heavenly Father, you obviously love the beauty, aromas and delights of a garden, for our first home was the garden paradise of Eden, and our future home, the new heaven and new earth, sounds like it’s going to be the Garden of Eden on steroids (Rev. 21:1-22:6). It shouldn’t surprise us, then, that you’d choose the image of a garden to describe our shared life as your redeemed people in this broken world.
The more we’re alive to the life-giving resources of the gospel—the more your mercy fills us, your love heals us and your grace frees us—the the more we’ll become like well-watered gardens—gospel gardens. You plant us in broken cities to bring your beauty and share your bounty, for a garden doesn’t exist for its own benefit, but for the benefit of others.
Father, forgive us when we turn our churches into private orchards, walled cities or gated estates. You’ve called us to love and to serve the least and the lost—to care for the poor, the oppressed, and the hungry in our communities. To love them well is to love you well. To ignore them, is to ignore you. Prune us, Oh, great Husbandman. Prune us for greater kindness, life-giving-presence and fruitfulness, for your name sake. Though it may hurt, may it hurt so good.
Lord Jesus, you are the true seed that was sown that death itself would die. You are the firstfruits of a whole new people and a whole new creation order. Raised from the dead, you are the spring of living water of which Isaiah speaks. You give life and your waters will never fail, and one Day, you will eradicate all evil and injustice. What a merciful and mighty Savior you are!
Jesus, you are the ultimate rebuilder of ancient ruins, the “Repairer of Broken Walls,” and the “Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.” Continue your gospel gardening work in us and through us, until the Day you return to finish making all things new. So very Amen we pray, in your bountiful and beautiful name.