God is a God of second chances. Of redemption. Of re-formation. Of new life.
That feeling we get in the Spring when all the flowers are blooming and the trees clothe themselves in rich greens. That reassurance that everything is not dead and the landscape will be filled again with life, lush curves and swaying leaves………God created that. Birds sing about it all the time. (If they didn’t, the stones would start singing, I’m sure: Luke 19:40)
When people rip out the life of creation and smother it with concrete, erect buildings on it and spray chemical showers on what’s left of it, God is not surprised (we can’t ‘surprise’ God) or incapable of redeeming in the midst of the damage.
When people (and “corporate persons”) slay and beat and force the land into submission, stopping just short of genetically modifying dollar bill genes into heads of grain, using other people to do the dirty work (is soil dirtier than greed?) and slaying and beating and forcing them into poverty and dependence, God is weeping but not surprised.
God weeps and works.
He works on hearts. On minds. On relationships – with Himself, people, moving creatures and the earth. God works on greed and in the soil.
‘Guerilla Gardening’ can mean, “illicit cultivation,” “war against neglect and scarcity of green and growing public spaces,” and “activism through gardening.” It’s happening in many large cities (and smaller towns) where abandoned lots and empty, neglected buildings and spaces are just sitting, hurting the eyes, and begging for new life.
When guerilla gardeners take an unused space and fill it with new soil and plants, they are reclaiming what has been lost and giving it new purpose (whether for food or beauty.) Just after Zacchaeus admitted his wrong in stealing money from others and realized his higher calling, Jesus affirms this message by saying: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” Luke 19:10. Jesus IS God’s proof of His redemptive heart.
In the book of Amos, God practically coins the term Guerilla Gardening:
“In that day, I will restore David’s fallen tent.
I will repair its broken places, restore its ruins, and build it as it used to be, so that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations that bear My name,” declares the Lord, who will do these things.
“The days are coming,” declares the Lord,
“when the reaper will be overtaken by the plowman and the planter by the one treading grapes.
New wine will drip from the mountains and flow from all the hills.
I will bring back my exiled people Israel;
they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them.
They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit.
I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them.”
The heart of God towards His created. His image-bearers. His beloved.
No matter how much concrete, how many corporate persons, how much spraying. There is always a remnant. Rebuilding is always possible. Restoration is the name of the game.
One of the last images in the book of Revelation describes a garden, with a huge river flowing through it (a river coming from the new city of God, by the way):
On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month.
And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.
City and garden are finally reconciled.
Here’s a taste of what that can look like. Though it doesn’t end well for Adam Purple, the fulfillment of God’s promise of redemption and restoration is still lingering. There’s still work to be done; vacant lots to plant, workers to be healed, chemical action to be amended and greed to be addressed.