Sabbath in the Garden

I wipe the bead of sweat trickling toward my eye before plunging my garden trowel into the fertile soil. Softened by a rain shower the night before, the ground is easily pliable. An earthworm slithers out of sight. Perfect conditions for setting out new rows of begonias.

I inhale the musky scent, and God draws near. Glancing toward the baby blue sky, I know the certainty of His presence. Warmth floods my chest, and I fill with joy.

I’d spent the previous hour prepping the bed: removing withered pansies, raking dried-up pine straw and fallen leaves; loosening the dirt, readying it for new life.

Gardening gets me out of my head and plunks me firmly in the present. The calming cadence of nature chases away anxious thoughts and frees me from self-expectations. Gardening transplants me to a state of delight.

Wendell Berry, novelist, poet, environmental activist, cultural critic, and farmer writes:

The soil is the great connecter of our lives, the source and destination of all.

This may help explain the attraction to gardening for many, but today I understood gardening as more than that. While the soil does weave us together into a sort of interconnectedness, a greater interdependence is at play in gardening, in the whole of God’s creation.

As I kneeled in the garden, I thought about how God created the soil, sky, sunshine, rain, earthworms, plants, me and placed us together in His perfectly ordered universe—dependent on each other. Gratitude and humility bathed my soul, and I experienced Sabbath right there in my garden. I comprehended, perhaps for the first time, the boundlessness of God’s gifts of love and care.

In his book, Living the Sabbath – Discovering the Rhythms of Rest and Delight, Norman Wirzba describes biblical teaching about Sabbath as more than a rest from our frantic, self-serving lifestyle. Rather, it’s a discipline and daily practice.

Wirza points us to the Bible’s “Song for the Sabbath Day,” or Psalm 92. “Above all,” he argues, “Sabbath observance is infused with thanksgiving and praise.

For you, O LORD, have made me glad by your work;
At the works of your hands I sing for joy.

How great are your works, O LORD!
Your thoughts are very deep!

(Psalms 92: 4-5 ESV)
The connection between delight and the practice of Sabbath is obvious. What brings you delight? What causes you to spontaneously respond to God’s grandeur and goodness with thanksgiving and praise? Click To Tweet

Our offerings of thanksgiving and praise aren’t forced or commanded when we practice Sabbath.

“When [thanksgiving and praise] are at their most authentic pitch, they follow spontaneously and naturally from a life that is attentive and responsive to God’s grandeur and goodness everywhere on display (21).”

The test of genuine Sabbath practice “will come in the middle of our working week, as we build, teach, heal, cook, rather than the formal (and sometimes formulaic) setting of a worship service (23).”

The connection between delight and the practice of Sabbath is obvious. What brings you delight? What causes you to spontaneously respond to God’s grandeur and goodness with thanksgiving and praise?

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  1. A beautiful post, Candyce! I, too, delight in the magnificence of God’s creation. His amazing artwork! And I delight in Him and His Word. It’s here I find my strength and peace.

  2. Candyce, your words always move me. “Gratitude and humility bathed my soul ” should be our mantra throughout the day as we marvel at God’s beauty and our interconnectedness. Thank you, my friend.

    1. Thank you for your kind comment, Jackie. To be honest, those feelings of humility and gratitude are elusive for me at time — times when I focused on my own circumstances. Here’s to looking outward more often

  3. Wow, your way of sharing about your time in the garden brought me a sense of peace too. You did a beautiful job of describing our connection to God through the nature He provides. Thanks Candyce

    1. I appreciate you saying that, Yvonne. Thanks for taking time to read the post. Blessings to you.

  4. What an encouraging post to seek and find God in the quiet.. as we plow away at life we can often discover God in unexpected places. May we choose to rest and respond, wherever we experience His goodness, even in the garden.

    1. Thank you, and you are so right. The more we look for God, the more we will see Him. And the more we see Him, the more we will respond by offerimg Him praise and thanksgiving.

  5. I’m so thankful, Candyce, that Jesus made a way for us to enter Sabbath rest anytime. I know I, for one, should enter it more often. I find that the discipline of quiet helps me to enter that sacred space.

    1. Quiet is so hard to find in today’s world which is reason to seek it all the more. I certainly need more of it. The beauty is that God’s door is always open, and he patiently waits for us to enter.

  6. I have often thought that the most genuine expressions of our heart connection to God spring from everyday moments.

    Beautiful writing, Candyce.

    1. Hi Terri. Thanks for stopping by. I like the way you worded that – “heart connection.” That’s where we feel it, for sure. I’m thankful for each one of those everyday moments because too often I let myself become overwhelmed with busyness.

  7. When asked why I plant so many flowers and spend so much time in my yard or garden, I say, “It’s my therapy, my stress reliever.” Your message gives me another perspective and I wholeheartedly agree. Digging our hands in the dirt and planting seeds and plants carries on the cycle of God’s creation. We are a part of His creation, but as we participate in growing beauty, we are an extension of His hands on earth. What an honor and joy it is to be part of that. Thank you for this inspiring message.

    1. Yes, and and one of our roles to be an extension of His hands on earth. In the case of gardening, a literal extension. I love that thought.

      And wow, do you have some lovely flowers! I enjoy your pictures so much. Gardening does very much relieve stress and so much more for our psyche. I’m sure that’s a big part of its appeal for many.

  8. I can relate to your gardening inspiration. It does something to me when I am out in the flowers digging in the dirt. We can see God’s hand in creation and it shows us how awesome and amazing He is. Jesus told His accusers that if the people were silent the very stones would cry out. Nature knows who God is. Thanks for sharing this beautiful post, Candyce.

    1. Oh good, Barbara — a fellow gardener! It’s hard work in the summer especially but brings so much peace and hope. I can tell you get that. Nature, indeed, knows God and helps us know Him too,

  9. Amen Ms. Candyce. Sabbath should not be a day, but a destination ma’am. How very well demonstrated in your inspiring post. Your words invited us to stand in your garden with you and bask in the glory of God’s presence as He bathes our souls in His love. What a wonderful moment of respite your post brought today. Thank you; and God’s blessings ma’am.

    1. Thank you much, J.D. Thanks for pointing out that Sabbath should be a destination. I would add that the daily practice of sabbath helps and delight helps us reach it,

      I’ll bet it’s hotter on the ranch than it is in these hills of Georgia. Seek shade and stay hydrated!

  10. Candyce, what l lovely devotion. Your analogy and use of language made this a great read and left me ready to see God in my daily tasks. Worship is a way of life not designated to one take a week. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Lisa, yes! It’s easy to get caught up in our daily, busy routines, and I miss many opportunities to praise God when I allow that to happen.

      Have a delightful week!

  11. You painted an absolutely beautiful picture here. My delight? Just this morning being quiet and asking God to speak and He did: psalm 13:5 “I trust in His unfailing love.” Constant, never stops- He loves me. That is a place to rest in security.

    1. I love that. We don’t have to look far to find delight in the Lord. We only have to open our eyes and heart to Him.

      Thank you for your response, Marilyn. It brings the following to my mind and gives it new meaning: “Delight yourselves in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).

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