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The Gardens

The Gardens
by Bridgett Lopata

“So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead in order that we might bear fruit for God. For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death.” Romans 7: 4-5

Over the years, I have heard a great deal about bearing “fruit” for God and I have even memorized the fruits of the Spirit found in the book of Galatians: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. So whenever I see a beautiful garden full of color and life, (maybe with a water fountain at its center and wooden bench at the base of an old tree), an orchard of fruit trees, or a vegetable and herb garden, I think of healthiness, healing, and wholeness.

In my mind, this is the fruit of God.

It nourishes, heals, and provides. It displays beauty and promise.

Last week I discovered the existence of another garden. It is called the Poison Garden and it is part of the Alnwick Garden in the UK. There are over one-hundred flowers and plants in this garden, and every single one of them will kill you. This garden is surrounded by a black, iron fence, and adorned with skulls and crossbones. 

It is surreal and fascinating.

The garden itself (if the black gates, warning signs and skulls were removed) is beautiful. It is full of greenery, flowers, trees and bushes. But all of it can kill you. It might not kill you quickly or painfully. In fact some of the plants kill you painlessly or even allow you to experience a “pleasurable” death. However, the end result is always the same.

Death.

What we choose to plant and water is going to live and grow in our garden. So, what have we planted or allowed to be planted in our hearts and our lives? Is it good? Pure? Righteous? Loving?
Maybe it is corrupt. Self-serving. Sinful. Evil.

Evil does not always look evil. It does not always have red horns, a pointy tail, and carry a pitchfork. Sometimes it looks like a beautiful flower or delicious berry. But it will kill you. For we know that sin leads to death.

In this life we are faced with the gateway to two gardens. One leads to temporary pleasure and the other leads to the cross. Which garden are you going to choose?