Lately, I have been so surprised as to how each book I've read has been the book I needed to read. There isn't usually a reason for the next book that I pick up, but I do try and have three current reads at a time, especially if I have a goal to read a certain amount each year. For instance, this year I want to read 24 books and I have my books separated into genres/themes and I try to have one from each grouping going at a time. Besides this, I normally just pick one randomly when it's time to begin a new one. But so far this year, when I've finished a book, I have realized that it was the book I needed for that moment. I wish I could recap all of them so far this year, maybe one day I will, but today I'll talk about "The Secret Garden" and how it met me right where I am in learning how to simply choose truths over lies.
"One of the new things people began to find out in the last century was that thoughts -- just mere thoughts -- are as powerful as electric batteries -- as good for one as sunlight is, or as bad for one as poison. To let a sad thought or a bad one get into your mind is as dangerous as letting a scarlet fever germ get into your body. If you let it stay there after it has got in you may never get over it as long as you live." -- The Secret Garden
For most of my twenties, and I would say it's safe to say since I was a child even, I've been battling the idea of comparison, mostly in looking at what others my age around me have and noticing what I don't have. For a long time, I was bitter anytime a new engagement popped up on my feed or I saw friends buying a house. Then, those became baby announcements and new jobs and still more engagements. My heart was very much hardened, because instead of finding joy in where God had me, I was finding reasons to keep believing the lies I had been telling myself of why I wasn't where my friends were. I felt alone and unseen, but mostly stuck, as my friends moved into different seasons of their life and I was still feeling in the same place. After reading the book "Uninvited" by Lysa TerKeurst, I was challenged to replace the lies I was believing with truths from God's Word instead.
It's been awhile since I finished that book, but the practice of replacing lies with truth is still a thing. Sometimes a daily thing. The lies of the world can shout awfully loud, we must simply choose to shout truth even louder. I never expected to be reminded of this as I finished the classic book "The Secret Garden." If you've never read this book, it's about a little girl Mary who is sent to her uncle's house. Mary is quite contrary (yes, like the nursery rhyme) and while she is there she discovers a secret garden and then another secret that has been living, hidden in the house for ten years, her cousin. There are so many other wonderful characters in this book, like her friend Dickon that helps her tend to the secret garden and Ben, the old man who takes care of all the gardens that belong to the home. One character that we don't read much of, but to me, has the most amazing transformation, is Mary's uncle, Archie. He is the father of her cousin who has been hidden and doesn't have much of a relationship with his son. He is mostly worried that he will turn out an invalid or not live at all, but this is far from the truth as we read in the story as the boy and Mary become closer friends. Archie is far off from home when he realizes that things change, that he may have been wrong, and something wonderful may be going on back home. He realized that what he had been thinking all along, may in fact, not be truth. He had let this idea grow in his head for so long that he believed it to be true, when in reality none of that had come to be!
How much like Archie am I? For years, I have found myself doing this exact thing. I have let myself come to believe a thing to be true, when it is not rooted in any truth at all! I've let myself focus more on lies and comparisons than on the beauty of what God has surrounded me with now.
Archie makes his way home and asks about his son. And there is a beautiful ending, that I won't spoil, because it's such a great classic and if you haven't read it, I recommend it. But, he doesn't let the idea of what he thought was true continue to reign. He goes home seeking the truth and he finds it. And I think it was better than he could have imagined.
Isn't this what God does for us? He gives us a better truth than we could ever ask for? When we seek truth, when we pray and read His Word, when we are obedient to say yes to the things He calls us to, doesn't He meet us and show us beautiful things? Yes, He does!
But it's hard. And sometimes it takes years for us to finally find a way to say yes, that we will go and see, like it did for Archie. When we let doubts, comparisons, lies fill our hearts instead of the beauty and undeniable truths that our Creator speaks over us, it's easy for our sight to get clouded. Tom Tanner, Annie F. Downs' recent guest on her podcast, That Sounds Fun, said, "sight sometimes interrupts faith." Doesn't it though? We can believe so many things that God says, but the moment something against that comes, we don't believe anymore. I think that statement, of sight interrupting faith, is why it's easier for me to believe things for my friends, rather than myself. It's why I can offer advice, give encouraging words, but not accept them. I long for my faith to be sight and not for my sight to be an interruption. One more quote from "The Secret Garden":
"Much more surprising things can happen to any one who, when a disagreeable or discouraged thought comes into his mind, just has the sense to remember in time and push it out by putting in an agreeable determinedly courageous one. Two things cannot be in one place.
We cannot grow thistles and roses. We cannot speak lies and truth. We must replace one with the other. I have bought into the lies that I speak over myself, and I see just how small my faith is. Is it possible for a rose to come from this ground? My weakness is speaking truth to myself, but praise God, that is where my Creator is strong. Because He is truth. And He speaks it over me daily, I must simply choose to listen and believe. He speaks it over you as well, friend. We must replace one with the other. Will you choose to replace lies with truth?
I've created a devotional guide to help lead you through 6 truths that God speaks over us. Want to receive this free guide? Subscribe and join the Polished Arrow Community by clicking here or fill out the form over on the right and it will be in your inbox!
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