Some days it just seems like the day before. Some days I must look at my calendar just to know what part of the week it is. One day rolls into the night, then back into the day, and night comes again. Sometimes I simply get lost in it all. It can seem like an endless cycle, but I choose to praise God for the adventure that comes with each sunrise as I trudge through each day’s work.

Today is a “day off” from my vocation. It is a quiet morning. The sun has risen, pushing against the darkness, and the dawn brings a season of praise from the inhabitants that scurry about. There is something to learn from them. The birds sing, the squirrels chatter and scamper, butterfly’s flitter in moving from flower to flower, and my heart fills with praise for God’s creation.

Though one day simply runs into the next, the dawn reveals another day of glory when I take the time to experience it. God fills our lives with beauty if we just open our eyes to see. It’s funny to me that there was a time that God’s beauty was all around me, but I couldn’t see it because I let the busyness of my life distract me.

But now my days in the garden fill me with prayer and yes, hard work. I found that the best way to find balance was to be intentional in embracing the beauty that surrounds me. No longer are the flowers, the grasses and the trees just a background to my life. Now I embrace, interact with, and seek harmony with my surroundings. God placed this beauty there for a purpose. Embrace His purpose.

I start each day with thanksgiving and prayer, not hurried prayer, but a conversation with God. I seek reflection on the beauty that surrounds me. I wake a little earlier than I once did, and then, even before the garden work begins, I find that my soul longs for the Lord in a way that I didn’t even know was possible. Isn’t this something we all want in life? To enjoy the company of God, the company of Jesus, and too long for His presence?

There was a time in my life I talked a good game, loving God with all my heart, and seeking his presence at opportune times. I sincerely felt that way. But as I look back, I found I was seeking God primarily for my purposes. However, there is a better way to live that I suppose I couldn’t even identify then. I was searching for it in my own way, trying hard to fit God into the busyness of MY day.

What changed? Sorry for the cliché, but I stopped and smelled the roses. I literally stopped to smell the Sweet Almond bush, the Banana shrub, the Lavender, our blossoming orange tree, and the night blooming Jasmine in our garden. Do you know that Jasmine has been in our yard for decades? I smelled it occasionally, but it wasn’t until I stopped—It wasn’t until I took the time to rejoice in its God given beauty, that I discovered an even greater intimacy with my creator. The point I am making is not about pleasing smells as much as it is about stopping to smell them.

Now — my heart feints. I imagine, much like King David described his own heart in Psalm 84:

“How lovely is your dwelling place, LORD Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.
Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young — a place near your altar,
LORD Almighty, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.”   ~~ Psalm 84:1-5

What does that mean, “my heart feints”? The Hebrew word here in Scripture is, “klh” which comes from the word, “kalah” (pronounced “kaw-law”). This beautiful Hebrew word speaks of being consumed, achieving accomplishment, and fulfillment. We spend our lives seeking these things in our “work” by being consumed in it. We seek accomplishment and fulfillment in our work, don’t we? Our work has a purpose and is important in the harmony Gods wants for our lives, yet we often get confused thinking work is where we will find kalah. King David found “kalah” in a garden with God, among the sparrows, and the swallows. Where do you find your kalah? It doesn’t have to be a garden, the point is about taking intentional time to experience God’s presence.

I have planted special plants and trees along the path that winds through our garden. Trees that bloom and whose fragrance fills the air as I pass by. These special places remind me of the kalah I share with Jesus. They remind me of the love and life I share with my creator. As I meditate on God’s Words that hold my heart so tight, I find they actually embrace me (when in my mind, I am embracing them). I find an all-consuming love that is fulfilled in my relationship with Jesus. Thank you, Lord, for your presence in the garden of my life. Thank you for helping me stop to smell the roses—the night blooming jasmines, the orange blossoms and the sweet almond bushes!

There is a worship song I adore from years ago. King David wrote Psalm 84 from a time in his life much like mine, I guess. “Better is One Day”, springs from my lips as I gaze at the simple beauty before me. I often lift my hands in praise or fall to my knees in prayer and garden work, as I make my way down our garden path. Despite so much loss in life, I find kalah in the garden with Jesus. It feels like he found me, but indeed, I found him. He was always there, patiently waiting.

“How lovely is your dwelling place
Oh, Lord almighty,
For my soul longs and even feints for you
For here my heart is satisfied
Within your presence
I sing beneath the shadow of your wings

Better is one day in your courts
Better is one day in your house
Better is one day in your courts
Than thousands elsewhere”

~~ written and performed by Matt Redmond

My prayer is that you will look at your life and your focus. Like many things in life, we often see work, our vocation, as the one thing that will bring a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment, and indeed, in its own way, it should. However, to find true kalah, an all-consuming, fulfilling love and sense of accomplishment in life – seek a relationship with your creator. Step away daily from your busyness in life and commune with Jesus. Seek kalah in the morning as you wake, get up a little earlier if you need to, and end your day with a sense of kalah and your heart and flesh will cry out for the living God.

It doesn’t really matter what day it is — A song of praise rolls from my lips, straight from my heart, and I fill the garden with kalah!