God’s Garden of Gladiolas

I spent the afternoon in a garden of gladiolas. A floral array that created a botanical masterpiece. Gladiolas are perennial plants known for their tall floral spikes and large, colorful blooms. Each blossom is composed of multiple flowerettes creating one flower that bursts forth from a sturdy green stalk. I was enthralled by the beauty surrounding me. I felt like I was surrounded by God’s presence portrayed through posies. In my spirit, I sensed multiple multicolored messages.

Botanically, gladiolus originates from a Latin term meaning sword. This flower is sometimes called the sword lily. It is described as a plant with unbranched stems having several narrow, sword-shaped longitudinal grooved leaves enclosed in a sheath. From within these green leaves, funnel-shaped irregular flowers emerge on slender stalks. I thought about the sword of the Spirit that is part of God’s armor. Ephesians 6:17 says, “Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

The botanical spires inspired me. The gladioli, commonly known as glads, seemed to echo Psalm 122:1, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the LORD.’”

Each flower reminded me of the steeple of an old church. Each blossom pointed to God in heaven. I felt like I was in a cathedral of living stained glass windows. So many flowers! So many colors! Ruby red – coral – pink – yellow – white – lavender – deep purple.

The stalks talked to me of God’s goodness. Psalm 25:8 declares, “Good and upright is the LORD; therefore He instructs sinners in His ways.” Psalm 23:6 says, “Surely Your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” God is good!

Some gladioli were standing up straight declaring the glory of God. I Chronicles 16:24 says, “Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous deeds among all peoples.” Other floral stems appeared to bend lowly in humility. Psalm 95:6 invites, “Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.

Through the magnificent beauty of the flowers, I experienced the fulfillment of Isaiah 33:17. Your eyes will see the king in His beauty and view a land that stretches afar. Psalm 90:17 NKJV says, “Let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us.” I also was aware of a sweet perfume in the air. It was the fragrance of the flowers! In Ephesians 5:1-2 we are encouraged to, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as beloved children, and walk in love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant sacrificial offering to God.” II Corinthians 2:15 NIV says, “For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” The New King James version translates it, “For we are to God the fragrance of Christ.”

Each cluster of blossoms appeared to symbolize a choir of trumpets. I sensed that the gladioli, or trumpets, were declaring a chorus of triumph. Psalm 98:6 NLT says, “With trumpets and the sound of the ram’s horn, make a joyful symphony before the LORD, the King!” A cacophony of praise was being declared by the colorful trumpets. God’s greatness and grandeur was being portrayed and proclaimed. Psalm 47:1 NKJV says, “Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples! Shout to God with the voice of triumph!”

Throughout the afternoon, I was encircled by a floral hedge. Psalm 135:9 NKJV says, “You have hedged me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me.” I was captivated by more than splashes of color. My spirit was communing with the God of all creation. Revelation 4:11 declares, “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they were created and have their being.”

Breathe!

One of summer’s special gifts that I enjoy is the fragrance of flowers filling the air. In May I sense the smell of lilacs and in June I fill my lungs with the aroma of roses. I love to sniff the sweet scent in the air. Respiration is an automatic function of my lungs but when I smell a delicate floral fragrance I become aware of my body’s task of breathing.

Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground
and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life,
and the man became a living being.
Genesis 2:7

The ability to breathe is a God-given gift. Through His breath, God gives life. If I can breathe, I am alive. If I cannot breathe, I am dead. These are facts relating to the human body. We know there is life in a newborn baby when he cries and inhales oxygen into his tiny lungs. I wonder what it was like for Jesus to take his first breath as a human being. He was God and He participated in the first act of breathing life into mankind. Then when he was born as the son of Mary, like all babies, he took his first breath of oxygen. Inhaling oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide is essential for all of mankind.

And with that He breathed on them
and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
John 20:22

While living on earth, Jesus breathed the atmospheric air. When He died upon the cross, He quit breathing. After His resurrection and before His ascension, He breathed a new life into His disciples. He breathed the Holy Spirit upon them. They received a presence and power of the Trinity never before experienced by mankind. In this passage of scripture Jesus extended peace to those around Him and He still offers that same peace to us. If I am uptight and anxious, I take a deep breath to calm down. I am actually inhaling the peace of God. Then as I let our my breath, I am exhaling the worries of the world. In both cases, I am breathing spiritually as well as physically.

Just as there are physical and spiritual benefits of breathing, there are physical and spiritual ramifications of breathing. Paul refers to these in his second letter to the Corinthians.

But thanks be to God, who always leads us
as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession
and uses us to spread the aroma
of the knowledge of him everywhere.
II Corinthians 2:14

Rochester, New York is known as the Flower City and Highland Park is internationally famous for its wide variety of lilacs. When we go to see the lilacs in bloom, the aroma of the various shrubs leads us from one bush to another. While the flowers vary in colors from light lavender to deep purple, we are also aware that some bushes are more fragrant than others. The entire park emits the floral fragrance of lilacs. The bushes seem to lead us in a procession just as Paul tells us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of Christ. I like the conclusion of this scripture in the New Living Translation, “Now He uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume.”

For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ
among those who are being saved
and those who are perishing.
II Corinthians 2:15

Several years ago we were in Melbourne, Australia for an extended period of time. While my husband was working, I had free time. Since this city is known for its many gardens, I spent time wandering in these beautiful spots. The roses were in bloom and their fragrance would overtake me at unexpected times. I would simply stop and breathe in their perfume because I was not in a hurry. As the saying goes, I took time to smell the roses. Just as the rosy aroma in the air was pleasing to me, Paul informs us that we are to have the same influence upon those around us. The beginning of this verse in the New Living Translation says, “Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God.” We are to be the aroma of Christ infiltrating the world around us.

Currently, I become aware of the gentle breeze blowing through the window near my computer desk. The breeze is breathing on me and the room is being filled with floral scents of the rose bushes outside. While I inhale the fragrance of the atmosphere around me, my mind is filled with the aromatic scriptures I have meditated upon.

My Reader, I extend to you the perfume of a bouquet of posies and promises. Breathe in the breath of God while you inhale your required oxygen.

Joyfully,
Cheryl

*Click on images to find the credit for appropriate images.