I have long said that every time you go to a funeral you’re really attending several other funerals in your heart. (I know this looks like it has the potential to get depressing but hang with me for a couple of minutes.) This past weekend I attended the funeral of my friend’s mother. She was 92 (the mother, not my friend), had enjoyed a great life, and was ready to be home with Jesus. It’s hard to be sad for her but nonetheless her family will miss her.
Before the funeral started I glanced through the program and noticed that “In the Garden” was planned for midway through the service. “This could get ugly,” I thought to myself. In the Garden (also known as I Come to the Garden Alone) was played at my grandfather’s funeral nearly 30 years ago and it still UNDOES me every single time I hear it. Sure enough, this time was no exception. As I wiped away my big crocodile tears while trying to pull myself together I remembered a story I heard several years ago.
I wish I could remember more details of said story, like the name of the man who shared it; but the crux of the story I will never forget. The Chinese man who shared his experience described a time when he was in a concentration camp. I assume it was during WWII but like I said, the details are fuzzy. His job at the camp was to shovel human excrement out of the sewage pit into heaven only knows what. (Another fuzzy detail, which is probably better left out anyway.) He talked about having to stand IN THE EXCREMENT as he did his job (I know, totally gross. Hang on — the good part is coming!) What amazed me was his response to the horror he’d lived through. He talked about his time in the “pit” as the favorite part of his days in the concentration camp. Why? Because he could be alone to pray! You see the guards had no desire to hang out in such a smelly, disgusting location so he was free to sing and pray at the top of his lungs. There he would sing out to God:
I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses
And He walks with me
And He talks with me
And He tells me I am his own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known
That excrement pit was this man’s garden! No roses, no pretty trellises, just poop. And yet, right there he felt joy as he spoke with his Savior! Sure, it would be sweet to have a beautiful garden to enjoy whenever we wanted to spend time with Jesus, but that’s simply not always feasible. And if one man can find his “garden place” in a sewage pit, surely we can find our own “garden spot” in our living room, or our car, or even in the closet (not my closet, mind you, but I’ve seen some that would be perfect for spending time with Jesus!)
Do you know that Jesus is LONGING to spend time with you? He doesn’t care where you are or what you look like. He’s just waiting for you to cry out to Him with praise, or questions, or worries, or whatever it is you’d like to talk to Him about. He loves you beyond what you can comprehend and just wants to hang out with his beloved child – you!
Find your garden today. There is unfathomable joy to be found there.