Years ago, when our family still lived in California, I would take long walks every morning. My route was the same each day, and on that route, I’d love to look at the beautiful yards that lined the streets. But there was this one house on one of the streets that had a yard that was full of weeds; overgrown and clearly never tended to. It always grabbed my attention as it stood out in such contrast to the well-kept yards all around it. One day, as I passed by it I just stopped and stared at it for a very long time. I found myself lost in the potential that it had. I could tell that, at one time, someone had planted a flower garden within it. But many years had gone by without a gardener to tend to it and now weeds choked out its once held beauty.
That day, as I stood there dreaming of what I’d do if it was my garden, the Lord spoke to me. He said, “Kathi, every person you walk by has great potential. Within each person is a secret garden filled with beauty that was created to display different aspects of My image. Will you stop and dream with Me when you see a broken person that has not been nurtured or tended to with love? They are My secret gardens that I want to be unlocked.”
I knew that when He said “dream with Me” that it implied prayer, seeing beyond the natural, speaking identity, sowing into them, and nurturing them. I said, “Yes.”
That “yes” began a journey of seeing with new eyes. I learned to look at people through the eyes of their Creator. Not one single person was ever created outside of His image and His beauty. Not one!
My husband and I found ourselves taking teenage boys into our home who were broken, bruised, and orphaned. These boys were so damaged that it truly took a revelation of “who God created them to be” to be able to walk day after day through their anger, their depravity, and the brokenness that had become their identity.
One of our boys was easily triggered by little things in everyday life. His anger would come out with such venom that we needed a divine strategy of how to calm his pain. The Lord had shown me who he was created to be and even the plans for his life. He asked me to begin to speak that beauty over him in these moments of rage. The next time this young teen was triggered, I looked at him and said, “Son, that’s not who you are! You are beautiful, kind, caring…” As I began to speak to “who he was” (rather than address what he was doing), he began weeping. He would let me hold him, calm him, and restore him to peace. He expected someone to tell him who he had been taught he was (angry, unwanted, hateful, stupid, etc.) but what he received was a love that called him into his true identity. Today, this young man is walking in that beautiful identity! The secret garden was unlocked and tended to with love and care.
This morning as I waited before the Lord I felt two things deep on His heart; one was how His people see themselves. The second was how His people see the broken (especially in the younger generation).
Far too often, even those who know the Lord view themselves through their pasts or what the natural world has taught them. They see their weeds, their thorns, their hardened soil rather than partnering with God to unlock the hidden beauty (the secret garden) of who He created them to be. It is only when we believe that we possess beauty, value, potential, and great purpose that we partner with Him to see it unlocked. As long as we can’t see beyond the weeds, we will lose hope and become overwhelmed by the tangled mess. But God does for us what I did for our teen boys; He speaks true identity, beauty, purpose, and potential. He invites His sons and daughters into the discovery of His image within them. When we allow our ears to hear the truth we begin to be transformed.
I often say that God has truly surprised me “with me!” Before knowing the Lord, I saw absolutely no beauty and no potential beyond surviving and hiding behind masks. Every time I look at what the Lord has done in my life, I truly stand in awe because my “garden” was so locked up that I didn’t even know it existed. Finding “Him in me” has been the greatest treasure hunt! If you haven’t begun to find the treasure called, “You” then it is time to go exploring with the One who created you.
We must also begin to see beyond all the false identities, the masks that block shame, the confusion, and the shock of a world that has forgotten who they are and who’s image they are created in. We must ask the Spirit to begin to reveal His true identity that is beyond what is seen or being lived out in the world around us. Then we can pray, speak life, call them forth and unlock the garden within them.
The world is full of locked gardens but finding His image in them is the key to unlocking the true beauty. Though my initial reaction to that unkept yard was to look the other way or judge it as “unwanted”; the Lord used it to unlock a call on my life to see beauty beyond the natural sight in people.
God is longing to unblock our spiritual sight to see beyond the depravity and brokenness. He longs for us to see beyond the deceit and confusion. He wants us to speak life and to declare, “That’s not who you are! You are beautiful, valued, desired, longed for and deeply loved.”
Speak it over yourself and then speak it over a world (and generation) that has forgotten who they are. It’s time to unlock the beauty!
I want to leave you with the words I hear Him saying over you and over His created ones today from Song of Songs 4,
“How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! Your eyes behind your veil are doves. Your hair is like a flock of goats descending from the hills of Gilead. Your teeth are like a flock of sheep just shorn, coming up from the washing. Each has its twin; not one of them is alone. Your lips are like a scarlet ribbon; your mouth is lovely. Your temples behind your veil are like the halves of a pomegranate. Your neck is like the tower of David, built with courses of stone; on it hang a thousand shields, all of them shields of warriors. Your breasts are like two fawns, like twin fawns of a gazelle that browse among the lilies. Until the day breaks and the shadows flee, I will go to the mountain of myrrh and to the hill of incense. You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you. Come with me from Lebanon, my bride, come with me from Lebanon. Descend from the crest of Amana, from the top of Senir, the summit of Hermon, from the lions’ dens and the mountain haunts of leopards. You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride; you have stolen my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace. How delightful is your love, my sister, my bride! How much more pleasing is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your perfume more than any spice! Your lips drop sweetness as the honeycomb, my bride; milk and honey are under your tongue. The fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon. You are a garden locked up, my sister, my bride; you are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain. Your plants are an orchard of pomegranates with choice fruits, with henna and nard, nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with every kind of incense tree, with myrrh and aloes and all the finest spices. You are a garden fountain, a well of flowing water streaming down from Lebanon. Awake, north wind, and come, south wind! Blow on my garden, that its fragrance may spread everywhere. Let my beloved come into his garden and taste its choice fruits.”
Song of Songs 4:1-16 NIV
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