Even those of us who might boldly declare our status (by God’s grace) as born again believers have a tendency to forget that we have been literally and spiritually transported out of the old kingdom and into the new one (Colossians 1:13), one where often the old worldly economy, tools, and techniques simply won’t suffice. Although we might readily understand and openly acknowledge the forgiveness of our sins, we still need to be regularly reminded of our utter dependence upon the power of God and His glorious Word and the absolute necessity of rejecting the impotent inventions and dangerous devices of this world!
In Colossians 3, the Lord reminds us of the vital importance of not only knowing where we now live, but also of mortifying all that accompanied us from the old kingdom. We are instructed to take off (mortify) the old man and instead put on the new man who is being renewed in Christ. (Colossians 3:9-11) This is our daily duty and joy as believers, one we must perform with diligence and one that can only be accomplished by the power of the Lord Himself.
We must cease from returning to the flesh if we truly desire a victorious walk and abundant race in the strength of our Heavenly Father. I pray this simple story encourages and reminds us all to truly turn to Jesus Christ, our King, walking in the Spirit rather than the flesh.
“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Galatians 5:25
THE KING’S GARDEN
Once there was a very talented and creative gardener who lived in a beautiful kingdom. All sorts of wonderful plants thrived throughout his property. He even grew plants on his roof. The gardener had flowers, and vegetables, fruit trees and even several species no one had ever heard of before. The plants were bigger and more lush than many had ever seen. And the fruits and vegetables were more delicious than almost anything anyone had ever tasted, other than the king’s, of course. People from all around the kingdom purposely planned to journey past the gardener’s house just to gaze upon all the amazing florae. He received an abundance of praise from the people and over time grew quite fond of it. Day and night, the gardener could always be seen outside trimming, planting, and planning with a smile on his face and a song in his heart.
One day there was position open at the palace garden. Over the years, many had attempted to care for the king’s plants and unfortunately most had failed. The gardener only lived a few miles down the hill from the palace and was quite confident he would make a superb gardener for the King. He immediately applied and was quickly hired. Upon starting, he was handed a letter written by the king himself, but the gardener was so excited he forgot to even open it. Instead he gathered up all the equipment from his house, loaded it onto a cart and pushed it all the way up to the palace.
As he entered the enormous garden gateway, the guard held out his hand, stopping the gardener dead in his tracks. The guard explained that there could be no outside tools brought into the king’s garden. The gardener could only use what was supplied to him by the king. For the first time in a very long time, he felt a flood of worry and bewilderment pour over. The king’s garden required tools and techniques that were entirely foreign to the gardener and this was something he was definitely not ready for.
The gardener and his family had not always lived in the beautiful kingdom. He was actually born in a kingdom on the other side of mountains, one that was much different than where he lived now. While still in on the other side, the gardener’s dad handed down to his young son all the tools and techniques he would need in order to grow amazing plants, at least until now. The gardener really thought he had all the knowledge and skills he’d ever need. Unfortunately, none of the ways he had learned from his dad would work properly in the king’s garden and soon the king’s plants began to wither and die. This was also something the gardener had not experienced in a very long time. Those walking by began to murmur and some even laughed at him. Others just looked away, feeling both sad for the plants and for the gardener. He had lost all the praise he was so accustomed to receiving.
Many palace gardeners had come and gone and many had failed. The gardener knew he didn’t want to be numbered among those who had been defeated, but also knew he would need to do something he hadn’t done in a very, very long time. He knew he’d have to ask for help. “Why is the king being so difficult anyway,” he often mumbled to himself? One day he finally humbled himself enough to ask the guard if there were any books in the palace library on tending the king’s plants. The guard explained that the only way to know how to properly care for the king’s garden was to talk with the king himself. The gardener’s heart sank. “Oh, no! Not the king,” he answered with a tone of discouragement in his voice. “How can I possibly ask the king?”
He definitely did not want that. After all, he was supposed to be the best gardener in the whole kingdom. He didn’t want to appear like he didn’t actually know what he was doing, especially to the king. He reasoned within himself that this would only make it seem as though he wasn’t really a good gardener. He strove for weeks attempting to figure out the right way of caring for each of the plants in the king’s garden. He got up early every morning and went home late every night. It wasn’t long before he grew extremely frustrated and terribly exhausted.
Soon many of the plants were dying and inside he felt the same starvation, but he just couldn’t put aside his pride to ask the king for help. So instead, he chose to return to his old house where at least he felt like he belonged. At least he could tend to the familiar plants and begin seeing success again. After a couple weeks, he was back to his old routine, but deep down he knew there was more. There was something missing in it all, but he just couldn’t quite put his finger on it. One thing was for sure, tending to his familiar garden just wasn’t satisfying like it once was.
One day, while trimming back a few bushes, something popped into his mind. “The king’s letter,” he thought to himself. “In all the excitement, I never read his letter.” He wasn’t sure if he should even bother, but curiosity and frankly, the lack of satisfaction got the best of him. After searching a while, he found it. Sitting down in front of his fire place, he carefully opened the envelope and began to read the king’s message aloud. It simply said,
If you are weak; if you are weary, then come to Me. Learn of Me and I will give you rest.
The gardener read the letter several times. Each time it was like a seed was being planted deeper and deeper within his own heart. At first, it was difficult to believe, but after thinking long and hard, he realized it wasn’t the king who was being so difficult. The gardener finally understood that he was the one being stubborn and prideful. “How could I have been so foolish,” he grumbled to himself. “After all, who could possibly have better tools and knowledge than the king?” He immediately stood and returned to the king, never looking back, never returning to his old garden again.
“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14