Am I My Brother's Keeper??!! Part 2
Friday Night, February 16, 2002
A Vision, Recalled
I was in South Carolina on a trip with some brothers, when I had something like a dream or a vision. I can remember pictures in my mind, but I don’t remember what form they came in. I talked to maybe 10 brothers at dinner about it that night.
In this sleepy, sleepy dream or vision of some sort, there was a garden and a variety of plants. I remember having very little interest in that garden, or anything to do with it.
BUT, something very serious happened inside of me. At some point I shifted my perspective entirely—and began to have a great deal of intense interest in this garden, and these plants. I then poured myself into cultivating and caring for the plants, and learning everything I could about it all.
Then, someone asked me, “Why do you care so much?” And the answer that I had for them was, “Because the One who died cares so much—it is my obligation to have the same heart for the Garden that He has.” I wept when it happened. I couldn’t stop. I feel the tears behind my eyes as I am retelling it now. I remember tearing up at the table at dinner in South Carolina. Some of the brothers will remember this. I felt very strong emotions and reconfirmed convictions for my life at the time of this dream—and I’ve tried to live my life that way ever since.
“Hey, I could care less about this plant. This gardening thing is a pain. I don’t know anything about it. I don’t know that I care anything about it—maybe it’s not really my problem. After all, what can I do? They’re not my plants, and I don’t like plants all that much (it’s not my ‘thing’). I don’t know what to do anyway.” Somehow, though, I had to turn my mind and efforts around. It was essential that I get my emotions involved in taking responsibility for making that garden lush and fruitful and safe. Why? Because the one who died and left this small plant and this garden to me as an inheritance—HE CARES. HE CARES. HE CARES. This is His stuff—and He has entrusted something to us—so it is not a matter of just “tolerating” it. I must emotionally care as much as He cares, and pay whatever price He has paid or would pay! And His Plant, His Garden is surely not to be neglected or forgotten, while my affections or busyness are elsewhere.
Beyond all of that, “the goal of this commandment is love, springing forth from a pure heart.” A pure heart is to have the same affection for the object of His Love that He does, untainted and undiluted by “self” interests and agendas.
So, I poured myself into it. I just sobbed over these plants and loved on these plants. In myself, I thought these plants were stupid and worthless and had no particular value. And even if they would have had value and had been delicious green vegetables, I would have never eaten them. (You know how I am with veggies. : )) It had absolutely nothing to do with me—no personal desirability at all. Yet, I made my heart to feel the same tears, the same joy, and the same love over this garden that the One who entrusted it to us had.
Beyond question, this picture, which was and is so dramatic for me, describes what must define our lives for Him. I must lay down my life and my emotions for individuals and His People in this way—for His Garden, His Bride, His visible Church as HE defines her in Acts 2:42-47, Matthew 5:14 and 16:18, Hebrews 3:12-14, Ephesians 3:10 and 5:27...accepting nothing less, ever. I have made myself cultivate a love and affection in areas that perhaps didn’t start that way necessarily, or might have been squashed by pain, had I allowed it. But as I have now seen how He views His Plant and His Garden, I have sought to bring my heart totally into being submersed in all the same feelings that He has.
There is no greater satisfaction in the world, no greater joy in the world, than that. It seems costly on the front end, very costly. But there is tremendous value in paying the cost of loving and caring for and protecting His Plant, His Garden. It is our High Calling and our privilege. Together with Him, we take up our cross daily for others. It is our joy and our crown.
Oh, Father, help me to care about your Garden with the depth and passion and sacrifice that you have demonstrated for that Garden—Your Chosen, and for those who might be.
I write to you, little children, Because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake. Because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, Because you have overcome the wicked one. I write to you, little children, Because you have known the Father. I have written to you, fathers, Because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, Because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, And you have overcome the wicked one.