Like a Watered Garden

Posted on September 9, 2011 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Devotional Reflections

Do you remember the prayer of Jabez? Several years ago Bruce Wilkinson wrote a book that brought prominence to this obscure person in the genealogy of Judah. The little volume on his prayer in 1 Chronicles 4:10 sold millions of copies. Jabez was noted as being more honorable than his brethren and his four-part prayer was answered: “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm.”

About the same time God brought to my attention a prayer of blessing in Isaiah 58:11. I claimed this verse as an explicit expression of what I desired and believed God wanted to do in my life–”And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.”

That just about covers everything one could desire of the Lord. I want Him to guide me continually. That’s not just assurance He will reveal the vocational direction of my life, but everyday in every little decision I can be confident the Lord is guiding. He is concerned about every aspect of my life and wants to lead me according to His plan and purpose.

I like the graphic image of satisfying my desire in scorched places. We tend to desire a lot of things that bring pleasure and material comfort, but what is one’s desire in scorched places. Have you ever been out in the middle of the desert in the midst of the glaring sun, scorching heat and had a desire for a cool drink of water. Sometimes in life we find ourselves in the desert, drifting directionless and on the verge of burn-out. We go through cycles of spiritual dryness in which we lack intimacy with God and our faith begins to waver. The greatest desire in such times is to be restored to fellowship with God and find joy and confidence in life. God promises to satisfy that desire in such times.

He also will give strength to your bones, in other words bring health to your body. We must never take for granted good health and a strong body. One can eat a proper diet, exercise and get plenty of rest but we are still vulnerable to illness and disease. Especially at my age, unprecedented aches and pains begin to emerge. It is assuring to know, even as God expects us to responsibly care for our bodies, He is the One who provides health and strength.

But where this passage really got my attention was the closing supplication that I would be like a watered garden. You can readily picture in your mind the difference in a well-watered garden fed by a continuing spring of water and one that is deprived of water. We planted trees and set out shrubs in our yard last year only for the summer drought to ensue. I got out the garden hose and sprinkler but my efforts were futile as the temperature soared to 100 degrees for several weeks. Many of the plants turned brown, leaves fell off and barren limbs attested to the tragic lack of water.

A landscaper persuaded me to put in an irrigation system and this summer the garden is flourishing. The grass is lush and foliage is green because every morning, without fail, a spring of water emerges to nourish my plants. I want my life to be like that well-watered garden, always flourishing and prospering in the purpose for which God has planted me in a ministry or responsibility. I want to be like a spring of water that is always feeding, encouraging and nurturing others.

The blessings of God’s continual guidance, restoring us in times of dryness, giving strength and health in times of need and making us like a watered garden will come only as we stay connected with Him, planted by the rivers of living water. “He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither” (Psalm 1:3).

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