With so much uncertainty and social pressures in today’s world, creating a peaceful haven is a necessity to make a safe space for our children.
“Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce.”
My maternal grandmother was the hardest working woman I’ve ever known. Her entire adult life was spent as a farmer’s wife and mother to four children in rural Michigan.
She had a very difficult, impoverished upbringing and had to drop out of school in the 10th grade. Much later, after my grandfather had passed away and she retired, she managed to get her high school diploma at the age of 67 and even took swimming lessons.
But her pride and joy were her gardens. While gardens on a farm were primarily functional, in her later years, her gardens became her greatest pleasure. She earned ‘master gardener’ status and even had them featured in the local newspaper. Her favorite flower was the iris, especially the bearded iris. They are my mom’s favorite too and I can’t see one today without thinking of both of these amazing women in my life.
Gardens Are Lifegiving and Peaceful
There are so many references to gardens throughout the bible. The one we tend to think about the most is the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus went to pray alone in agony prior to his crucifixion. But the gardens I’ve been thinking about the most lately are the ones that the Israelites were told to plant after they were exiled to Babylon.
After many, many warnings, the judgment of God was finally brought upon the people of Judah as a result of their sinful ways and they were sent to live in exile for seventy years. And, in Jeremiah’s letter to them, he outlines how they should live their lives while there. Because, even though they knew it wouldn’t be forever, seventy years is a very long time. He tells them, “This is what the LORD of Hosts, the God of Israel, says to all the exiles who were carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down. Plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters. Take wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Multiply there; do not decrease. Seek the prosperity of the city to which I have sent you as exiles. Pray to the LORD on its behalf, for if it prospers, you too will prosper.” (Jeremiah 29:4-7)
In many ways, being exiled in Babylon sounds similar to being a Christ-follower in our world today.
Establishing Routines Create a Peaceful Haven
While we recognize that this world is not our home, we also enjoy great freedoms (even though those are always in jeopardy) and we move about our lives having a great deal of control over daily decisions. Jeremiah’s letter to the Israelites let them know that they had plenty of time to lay a foundation in exile even if they knew in the back of their minds that it wasn’t going to be forever. They had to establish routines and go about their daily lives. The beauty of this is that it was something they already knew how to do. It would instantly create a sense of familiarity in a time when everything around them felt unfamiliar.
Planting gardens, doing the laundry, cooking meals, worshiping together, and being a part of a community all seem like simple acts and yet they helped the Israelites to cultivate a peaceful haven in this land that wasn’t their home. And this is something that we must do in our own homes so that we can provide our families a place that is safe, secure, and reliable when the world outside so often feels like a battlefield.
One of my fondest memories of the season of my life when my kids were little was watching them experience the miracle of growing a garden. Tilling the soil, planting the seeds, watering, weeding, waiting, and then seeing those first sprouts peeking through the dirt. The care and attention required to grow a garden was also growing their character. Household routines and rhythms provide us with a foundation from which we can take comfort when the world is in upheaval. The calling the Lord has placed on our lives to be ‘makers’ of our homes while on this earth is far more vital today than I think most of us even realize.
But, it’s easy to get complacent. To become so accustomed to and comfortable in this world that we no longer see much of a difference between who we are as ‘exiles’ and the ‘citizens’. Living in the tension between this world and the next is not easy. It wasn’t ever meant to be. So, while our hands go about the duties of each day in our earthly home, we must always set our hearts towards the promise of our eternal home.
In His Word
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (Colossians 3:1-2)
In Your Life
Do you recognize that you are living in a state of exile that is similar to what the Israelites experienced? What are you currently doing to create a peaceful haven in your home while the world outside is tumultuous?
Join me as we take a journey through the seasons of the year in my book ‘Life in Season’ with faith-filled stories, encouraging devotions, beautiful photographs, DIY projects, and recipes. Everything you need to slow down, embrace the beauty and the struggle, and celebrate the moments that fill your heart and home. You can find it here.