My kids were learning the history of the Great Plains. I love history so this was right up my alley. I thought I knew what to expect before we dug into learning but I was surprised when I saw pictures of the Plains in the 1800’s. It wasn’t the clothes or the buildings that surprised me, it was the landscape. It was formless. There was nothing there. It was so odd to see no trees, bushes or plants. The only place trees grew was near rivers. It was barren, which is why it used to be known as the Great American Dessert. It wasn’t seen as fit to grow anything. It was simply a path settlers traveled to get to the west.
There was a similar situation in the Old Testament. The land often lay barren, overgrown with thorns when the Israelites were taken as captives to other lands. The ground seemed to be good for nothing. In the same way our hearts can become like a wasteland when we make bad choices. Sin can take root and grow thorns and weeds in our soul making our hearts an entangled mess. Who would really want to fight the thorns and weeds to make this ground fruitful again? Who would want to buy barren land?
In Matthew 13 Jesus is telling a short parable about a hidden treasure. In verse 44 we read, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” Jesus is like the man who gave all He had and bought us. He gave all He had for us. Why? Because He treasures us! He doesn’t care that our hearts look like a barren wasteland. It doesn’t worry Him that we have a mess of sharp thorns and stubborn weeds growing. He loves us so much He gave everything that we could be free of all that entangles us. He went before us making a way for us to be free. He lived in victory from sin. A perfect example to us of how to live. His heart was in constant connection with the Father’s as ours can also be. We were made to be in relationship with the Lord. To be free of sin that so easily entangles. To be like a tree planted by the water that sends its roots by the stream. We were made to be strong in the Lord and fruitful for God’s glory. We were made to walk in victory through the Lord Jesus Christ.
If you see the Plains today it is a stark contrast to the pictures of the late 1800’s. What was once thought of as a barren wasteland is now producing crops and sustaining herds. I’m so glad Jesus was willing to give everything for us. Without Him our hearts would surely be a barren wasteland. But when you make Jesus the Lord of your life and allow Him to go through the process of restoring you, we become as beautiful as any garden.