Sometimes it takes a stranger to show you the way.
Nov 19, 2009
It was a blustery December morning, and I sat perched on a stool at the kitchen counter, credit card in hand, in the midst of placing a last-minute phone order for Christmas sweaters for my husband and our two children.
While the salesperson put me on hold, I held the phone and its tinny recording of Frosty the Snowman away from my ear and gazed out the window.
The paint on the white wooden gate that led to our postage stamp-sized back yard was cracked and flaking, and the rusty hinges creaked mournfully in the winter wind. A bright red cardinal fluttered down and perched on the edge of an ancient concrete bird bath filled with frozen water and dead leaves.
I once read that no matter how much a person owns, the average American wants 25 percent more. Me? More than anything, I wanted a garden. A real garden. You know. The kind of garden lush with flowers, birds and butterflies.
The salesperson came back on the phone, reviewed my order, and asked if I had any special instructions for the UPS delivery man. “Yes,” I said. “It’ll be easier for him to use the back door.”
I hung up the phone and looked out the window, hoping to catch a glimpse of the cardinal. But it was gone.
If only I had a bigger, prettier backyard, I sighed with discontent. If only I had a garden.
Three days later the front doorbell rang. Guess the poor UPS man didn’t get my instructions.
“Oh dear,” I said, as I signed for the package. “I’m sorry you had to walk all the way around to the front. The back door would’ve been easier.”
“No problem,” he replied. “I started to come up your back steps, but when I saw the gate to your backyard, and the garden, I couldn’t resist opening it.” He smiled sheepishly. “I hope you don’t mind. I love gardens, even in winter, and yours is so lovely. It must be so beautiful in the summer. I can just picture it blooming with flowers…butterflies…and so many birds at the bird bath.”
I stared dumbly at the package in my hands, not knowing what to say.
A garden! He actually thought our tiny backyard was a garden. And not just any garden. A lovely garden.
“Thank you,” I mumbled. “You’re very kind.”
Suddenly, I could hardly wait for spring! I could hardly wait to oil the hinges on the old gate and give it a fresh coat of white paint…scrub the birdbath and fill it with cool, clear sparkling water…put on my gardening gloves, grab a trowel, dig in the dirt and plant lots and lots of pink geraniums, coral impatiens, golden begonias, and purple petunias. Closing my eyes, I could practically smell the black, loamy earth…feel the warmth of the sun on the back of my neck…hear the birds singing….
All I had expected from the UPS man was a box of Christmas sweaters. But through his generous and inspired imagination, God had delivered so much more—the garden I’d always wanted.
The garden that had been there all along.
Open my eyes, Lord, to see Your beautiful hidden blessings that are all around me, just waiting to be discovered.
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