By Glenys Nellist
West Michigan UMC Coordinator of Children’s Ministry
Grand Rapids, Michigan
When my husband and I moved into our new home in Grand Rapids, Michigan, we were envious of the lovely garden next door. It simply bloomed with beauty. Flowers of every kind danced in the wind. Vegetables swung proudly and protruded from the soil like prizes.
Our neighbor, Herb, was a master gardener and luckily for us, he was also extremely generous. One day Herb hung a bucket over the fence that separated our backyards. Each morning, the bucket would be filled with different delights. One day it would be fresh beets; the next, zucchini. One day it would be cherry tomatoes; the next, red peppers.
We never saw Herb filling our bucket, but the evidence of his presence was undeniable. He gave out of his abundance, and we were the recipients of his generous gifts.
Suppose God is like Herb, working quietly in the gardens of our lives, filling our days with gifts of grace? I simply love the translation of Ephesians 2:7-10 that we find in The Message Bible:
“Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don't play the major role. If we did, we'd probably go around bragging that we'd done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing."
You and I are the recipients of God’s free, abundant, saving grace. As Paul reminds us, there’s nothing we can say or do to earn it … it’s simply, and wonderfully, a gift.
God, the generous giver, plays the major role. But we have the minor role. Our job is to gratefully receive it and then find ways to pass this grace on to others. “For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.” (Eph 2: 10)
Prayer: God of abundant generosity and grace, thank you for showering us with kindness and for working quietly in our lives to bless us in so many different ways. Send us out, that we might be a blessing to others. Amen.
1. What was the most surprising, undeserved gift you ever received? How did it make you feel?
2. What kinds of gifts has God placed in your 'bucket'?
3. Think of someone in your life whom you would like to bless. For the remainder of this Lenten season, find ways to work quietly in the garden of their lives, so that you are a gift to them.