In today’s First reading, the Lord sounds angry and frustrated. He is the God who I was familiar with when I was growing up. However, as an adult now, I listen carefully, and I hear the love and care that parents naturally have for their children in the Lord’s message to Moses. This reading reminds me of the magnitude of God’s compassion when I sin. He forgives. He understands. He remembers the promises He made to us and is a God who does not judge us on the number of times we mess up. His promises are lifetime guaranteed.

Four years ago, on a beautiful and calm summer night in Santa Barbara, I unraveled my Lion King beach towel onto the cold, crisp grass and laid beneath the stars. As they illuminated the night sky, I had a colloquy with my friend Jesus.

He said, “Thao, like Abraham, your descendants will be as numerous as the stars in the sky.” I savored that moment in peace before it quickly transformed into doubt, “Are these words actually from, you, Jesus?”

“Yes,” He says.

I doubted his promise and often still do. I do not feel worthy.

Like the people in today’s reading, I also have created my own gods – my career, my love life, my hobbies, etc. What hurts the most is that I did not know I was creating gods; I thought I was living my life the way I was supposed to. I was trying to be a dependable hard worker, a generous giver and lover, and enjoy the simple (and extravagant) things in life. I just kind of forgot that I was putting these things above my love for God.

I imagine when God made his covenant with Abraham, Abraham also was overwhelmed and had his doubts. However, his faith has been a model for me to follow. I too hang onto the gift of my faith. I don’t think Jesus is literal in His promise to me. Rather, my prayer time with Jesus has simply affirmed me that I am a gift created in the image of God and His dreams for me are so out of this world that my imagination cannot fathom it. What I can fathom is that God is making my heart a garden, and I have a lifetime guarantee on it.

Lord, my garden is often filled with weeds. Walk with me this Lent so I can accept my mistakes and shortcomings as you do and bring greater awareness to the gift of forgiveness you have relentlessly granted to me over and over again.

How is God walking with you in the promises he has made to you? In what ways is he cultivating your heart into a garden?

Matt Maher - Garden

Thao Nguyen

Photo Credit: Marion Jarvie