Devotional: Garden of the Heart

“You are a garden locked up, my sister, my bride; you are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain.” Song of Songs 4:12

 

               We build our relationships with people through external means. We meet them for coffee, talk to them face-to-face, invite them into our homes, and our ears grow accustomed to the sound of their voice. We know the style of clothing they wear, we observe their behavior, and we learn their likes and dislikes. Our experience with people is of an external reality, though we are impacted internally as a result. Our relationship with God is a bit different because a friendship with him is primarily an internal journey. Of course, we have the ability to know him through many external experiences like church, music, media, art, the earth, the Bible, and plenty of people who represent him well. But if we only know God through the natural realm around us, we will just barely scratch the surface of truly knowing him. Every single one of us is a world within a world. Our inner world is made up of thoughts, feelings, and imaginations. This is the sacred space where we all personally meet and commune with God. He exists in our innermost being; I am the temple of his presence and so are you. Your human body encloses the private garden of your heart, sealed from this outside world. The Passion Translation puts it this way, “A secret spring are you that no one else can have—my bubbling fountain hidden from public view” (Song of Songs 4:12).  How amazing that we are created this way! We are designed for an intimate inner world, thriving in our relationship with the Holy Spirit, and thus affecting every aspect of our lives.

               When you lay down to sleep at night and see the blackness of your closed eyelids, guess who’s in there? God. When you wake up and stumble to the bathroom thinking about the day ahead and the things you need to do, guess who’s listening? God. You cannot escape him. From the moment you decided to invite him in, he took you at your word and made his residence inside you. He completely inhabited your inner world. He knows everything about us and he longs for us to know him back. As with every other relationship, cultivating our relationship with God takes time. Time, time, time. Will you give him your time? It takes time to turn inwardly, to the garden of our hearts, and meet with Jesus. It’s much different than listening to a sermon, going to Bible study, or reading a devotional (although these are all valuable things). Meeting with God in our inner world gets personal, very personal. We are in our most raw, vulnerable place. We are fully seen and have nowhere to run or hide. It is a brilliant setup for encountering him and experiencing the freedom, love, joy, and peace that he so generously gives.

               Our inward journey with God is an ever-deepening relationship. It gets better and better the more we know him. The beauty of our relationship with God is that there is always more to experience, more depths to discover, and more of ourselves to completely let go of in the vast expanse of who he is. Do you yearn for more in your relationship with God? The treasures to be found are endless. It would be tragic to think we’ve come to a pretty good place, hit the brakes, and remain stagnant. Some people are content to check all their spiritual boxes like a to-do list and go about their lives as they please—never really knowing God but thinking that they do. Jesus said to the Jewish leaders in his day, “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:39). God himself came to the earth and stood among his own people and yet they did not recognize him (John 1:10-11). The Spirit of Jesus is dwelling on the inside of you. Do you recognize him? He is moving in the midst of your everyday life. Do you recognize him?

               Recognizing God begins in the humble places of our hearts. We are an inner garden that the Holy Spirit wants to tend to. We were made to flourish in this relationship. We want to meet with him and commune with him in these quiet and secret spaces. We want to be people who listen to his voice and take the time to be filled with his thoughts and ideas and emotions. And when we experience deep things of God—remember there is more for you! The Holy Spirit reminds me of this often. Sometimes when my heart feels so full like it’s going to explode, I hear Holy Spirit say, “There’s more than this! There is always, always more. There is more that you can give, more that you can receive, and the waters of my Spirit are endlessly deep.” We can go deeper. Do you want to go deeper?

 

Holy Spirit, our hearts are yearning to experience more of you. We are not content to stay where we are, we want to go deeper. Lead us into the depths of your heart. We want to recognize you in us and all around us. My inner world is a private garden to encounter you. Meet me in this secret place. Make us aware of your presence and tune our ears to hear your voice. We want to know you more, God.


1 comment

  • Beautiful!

    Bethany Ov

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