Jim Ratcliffe - San Diego, California - September 28, 1957

Isaiah 1:30, "A garden that hath no water." Isaiah 58:11, "Like a watered garden." Over in North Africa, the climate is similar to your climate here. After a long summer with no rain, everything gets dry and very barren looking. When the rains begin in the Autumn, that which seemed like a desert becomes more like a flower garden. In a few weeks, it can be changed because it is well-watered. I have thought of God's people individually as a garden. I like flowers, and perhaps that is why I've compared our lives to a flower garden.


I tried to take a little walk in Jesus' garden to see what was growing in His garden. I found that it was full of beautiful flowers.  I found that Jesus on every occasion had the beautiful flower of SUBMISSION blooming in His garden. In the garden of Gethsemane the night before He died, it was a cold, dark night and everything was against Him. He knew what was before Him; He knelt to pray. He had in His nature that which would have shunned the cross, but He said, "Father, not My will but Thine be done." SUBMISSION was blooming that night. There is something beautiful about seeing submission to the will of God. It's not hard to have this flower blooming when everything is going fine, but in the hardest season of all, it was blooming in His garden.



The flower of LOVE was in every season so prominent. "Love led Him to Gethsemane; Love led him on to Calvary; Love in His flowing wounds I see - the Lamb of God who died for me." Love helped Him to fit into the Father's will.



The flower of SACRIFICE was seen on every hand in Jesus' life. It reminds me of a little red flower I visited Flanders' Field in France. Thousands of Canadians gave their lives on one particular hill there. A little red poppy blooms on those hills; they remind us of the little drops of blood. When I saw those poppies, I thought of the blood that had been shed by all those different soldiers. Jesus' garden was dotted with little flowers of SACRIFICE that helped Him to sacrifice. Where there is love, there will be sacrifice; if we really love the Lord, there will be sacrifice. You can have sacrifice without love, but you cannot love without sacrificing.


The flower of HUMILITY is a sweet little flower. Though Jesus was with His Father and was rich, He humbled himself, became poor, took upon Himself the nature of man and became servant of all. When Jesus was with those twelve disciples gathered in that upper room, this flower was so very evident when He took the water and the basin and humbly washed His disciples' feet.



The flower of KINDNESS was so very evident that last night, too. Judas, just a short time before, had sold his Master. Jesus was so kind to Judas that He washed his feet. When Judas was leading the others to take Jesus, Judas kissed Him with the kiss of betrayal; KINDNESS in the heart of Jesus caused Him to call Judas His friend. One time the disciples had gone fishing, and when they returned, Jesus was on the shore. He didn't have hard words for them, but kind words. "Little Children, have ye any meat?" He had prepared something for them to eat; He was so kind!



I find that Jesus was very THOUGHTFUL, too! When He was walking up Calvary's hill, and those along the road were weeping, He was thinking of others. Luke 23:28, "Weep not for me, but weep for yourselves and your children." He was thinking of others to the very last step of the journey. This flower of THOUGHTFULNESS bloomed in His garden at a time when it may never have bloomed in our garden.



The flower of FORGIVENESS was constantly growing in His garden. After they had driven those cruel nails through His hands and His feet and lifted that cross, and the weight of His body hung on those nails, He picked one of the most wonderful bouquets that He ever picked, and give it to those who had put Him on the cross. He said, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." When they had done the very worst, He just picked a little bouquet and give it to them.


The flower of PATIENCE appeared so often when Jesus walked and talked with His disciples.



There was the flower of TENDERNESS when He spoke to Peter about His lambs and sheep - those words are so tender. John 21:15, "Lovest thou Me?"  After I took a little walk into Jesus' garden, I began looking into my garden. Jesus was bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh and tempted in every point like as we are. My little garden is made of the same earth that His was made of. Those flowers will grow in our garden, too. God doesn't ask impossible things of us.



When I see sacrifice, it moves me to sacrifice. When I see kindness, that moves me to be kind. When I see humility, that moves me to be humble. When you take a piece of flower which is blooming in your friend's garden and plant it in your garden, pretty soon you have that flower blooming in your garden, too.



What about your garden? Have you let it get like this desert place, or is it today blooming like a well-watered garden? I hope you have these flowers blooming in your garden because you're going to need them. You may need a bouquet of forgiveness for a brother or sister, and if you have to pick seven bouquets in one day, you better have a good long row of forgiveness growing in your garden. You'll need a nice little row of patience, too. These flowers are like sweet peas; the more you pick them, the more they will bloom. The more bouquets of forgiveness I pick and give away, the better my little patch grows! It would not be nice to have these bouquets for some people and not for others - that would be being partial.


Have these bouquets for everyone.



There are some things that hinder these flowers from growing. The weed of pride will choke out that flower of HUMILITY right away. You will never find the flower of Kindness when you have the weed of hardness growing in your garden. You need to work in your garden every day. If you leave it very long, the weeds will grow. Someone has said that a good time to pull weeds is right after a rain. I can see some of you, after convention, pulling some of those weeds. Perhaps after a little fellowship meeting is the time to pull out some little thing that you have become aware of.



Ways in which our garden is watered:  reading, praying, singing, meditating. Prayer is like the dew that falls. You don't know where it comes from but it is there and the earth is watered...it drops so tenderly and gently. If you are faithful in praying, you get your little garden watered. A fellowship meeting is just like a little shower, then every year, a four-day rain at convention time.



If you ever take a walk into your brother's garden, BE CAREFUL. Don't walk on the row of patience planted there. If you see a little weed, don't be too critical. Jesus spoke of this as removing a mote from your brother's eye. The eye is a very tender member. He told them to take the beam out of their own eye first. Look for the weeds in your own garden...first take care of your own garden.



We don't want to be guilty of giving artificial flowers. If you don't have the real flower growing in your garden, you are apt to give something artificial. Did you ever see the artificial flower of kind words?...No reality nor fragrance in them.



The spirit that accompanied Jesus' love, forgiveness, humility, sacrifice, was just like the fragrance that will flow from your life; it will be felt and seen by others. "My life a DESERT place would be, a wilderness so drear; except the Lord, He whom I love, doth every hour draw near."