Several years back, it was the first thing you heard when you entered my back yard. As a matter of fact, you could hear it even as you stepped through the door onto our back porch. The gentle, calming sound of water. It came from a beautiful water garden that graced the back yard of our home many years ago. But eventually my husband and I converted it into a planting bed.
It was hard work that took many long hours. But it wasn’t the task of filling in the huge, gaping hole that caused the job to take so long to complete. It was my unwillingness to do it.
I loved my water garden and I really didn’t want to see it go.
One particular fall, however, it appeared we had finally finished the task. We ordered dirt, and shovelful by shovelful we filled in the giant hole. But, the winter rains that followed compacted the soil, leaving the outline of our former pond painfully visible. Like a wading pool for frogs.
What was especially glaring was the waterfall structure that had been left. I gazed out my kitchen window at it every day, and it stuck out like a sore thumb of partial obedience.
God had clearly instructed me to do away with our water garden long before we eventually filled it in. I couldn’t understand why, and I ignored His directive for months. With a less-than-cheerful heart, I finally drained and disassembled the pond.
During the deconstruction I became convinced I knew God’s reason for asking me to give up my cherished water garden. I had reached that stage of life where the physical upkeep was becoming too difficult. God, I determined, was simply trying to make my life easier.
I could accept that. Still, I was going to miss the tranquil sound of water cascading over the fall, splashing into the upper pool, and flowing gently into the pond.
That’s what I would miss most. The sound of the water.
Unless I could determine a way to keep the sound of water while still filling in the pond.
Eureka! I would just keep the small upper pool and the waterfall structure.
It would only require a small pump, which I already had. And a little pond liner, which I could re-purpose from a leftover piece. So, I would be doing away with the part of the water garden that had been so much work, but I could still enjoy the sound of the water. I had the best of both worlds.
Or so I thought.
As it turned out, the liner in the small upper pool had loosened and required re-sealing to the waterfall structure.
Then the lip of the waterfall had lost its seal to the body of the structure. That would have to be addressed.
Plus, the upper pool didn’t hold as much water as I thought, and the timing of the water re-circulation wasn’t working out. Then, the upper pool seemed to hold more fallen leaves than water, and the leaves clogged the pump’s intake.
The obstacles continued to mount.
Initially I tackled each obstacle with determination. As the obstacles mounted, so did my frustration. A few weeks of fighting losing battles brought me to a conclusion.
I would simply wait until the following spring. I could address the situation then.
That spring arrived. Each morning before work I sipped my coffee and I looked out the kitchen window, gazing at the odd-looking silent waterfall with no pond to flow into. Staring at the shallow outline of what had been our water garden. Ugly reminders of something long left undone.
All because I was determined to keep the sound of water.
All because I was too stubborn to obey God fully.
I couldn’t take it any more. It was time to convert this eyesore into something breathtaking.
I had more filling-in to do, and I needed dirt. Where was all the dirt I removed when I dug the hole for the pond?
It was in the berm I had built around the waterfall. That non-functioning, problem-causing waterfall I was so determined to keep.
It was time for a decision.
Would I remove the dirt from around the waterfall and relinquish my quest for the sound of water? Or, would I continue to be stubborn? Would I continue to do things halfway? Would I continue in partial obedience? Would I continue in disobedience?
Partial obedience is disobedience.
Those words from a sermon kept ringing in my ears.
Grasping my shovel firmly, I plunged its blade deep into the soil mounded around the waterfall structure. Taking as much soil as I could manage, I tossed the dirt into the low-lying area where the pond had once been
The immediate relief from giving up my struggle with God was palpable.
I didn’t finish everything that day. But all the hardware of the old waterfall was removed. And when I looked out my kitchen window on the mornings that followed, that area where the water garden had once been didn’t look nearly as depressing.
I no longer saw reminders of disobedience. I saw wondrous opportunities laid before me by a God who patiently waited for me to trust and obey.
Walk in obedience to all that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess. (Deuteronomy 5:33)
I no longer heard the sound of water gently cascading out of the waterfall. But I heard the magnificent sound of God’s quiet voice speak to my soul. I finally understood that I had chosen to hear so many other sounds over the sound of God speaking to me.
I finally understood the reason God asked me to give up the water garden. All of it. He wanted to teach me a lesson I desperately needed.
I had fought to keep listening for other sounds. Sounds I found beautiful. Sounds I believed would relax and calm me. Despite God’s direction for me to remove the source of the sounds, I continued to cling to it. I assumed God would shout over the noise. I finally grasped the fact that my disobedience blocked the sound of God’s voice.
A sound much more beautiful than any lilting song of cascading water.
14 thoughts on “A job partially done”
This is so true. I tell my ladies this so much about hearing God word. So much out there to read and we do not stop and read the Bible! God’s word to us! Thinking other words will satisfy the soul. Just like other sounds will satisfy the longing of our hearts to hear from God. Thank you for those words of assurances that it is God who we need! God bless
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Thank you Mary Ann for your beautifully encouraging words.
Hi Janet! I am finally visiting you after you left such beautiful encouragement at my place earlier in the week. I love your place and the story behind your blog name. Just beautiful.
This post speaks to me — and many, I’m sure — on so many levels. But you landed it for me with this:
“I finally understood that I had chosen to hear so many other sounds over the sound of God speaking to me.”
Thank you for this message and encouragement!
Thank you for such kind words, Christi. I browsed all through your site earlier today. Love your writing! Love the Cheerio Trail concept, too! You’ve inspired me to look into the possibility of podcasts, but that will have to wait. I’m getting ready to attend a speakers and writers conference next week and I’ve got to focus on getting ready for that. So excited to find your website, and looking forward to reading more from you!
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Such a visual way of illustrating this beautiful truth! Thank you for sharing! Blessings!
And thank you for your kind words of encouragement!
Slow obedience, I have been there. Even knowing obedience is always the best response, I too sometimes drag my feet. To silence the noise and hear His voice, that is the blessing and the need.
Thank you, Michelle, for your beautifully encouraging words!
Janet – your words are so refreshing. “Partial obedience is disobedience” – oh, isn’t that truer than we’d like it to be. It’s amazing how we can hold so tightly to some things because we are sure they are necessary. But they end up causing us more misery because they aren’t what God wants for us. There is such a blessed freedom in letting Him have His way – why do we fight that so?! Thanks for the reminder that His way is best. Blessed to visit from #coffeeforyourheart.
Such a good question, Tiffany – Why do we fight that so? Thanks so much for your kind encouragement!
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ooh, “I assumed that God would shout over the noise.” How applicable that is to so many areas of life. Thank you for sharing your sweet story of surrender. ((Hug))
Thanks for your wonderful encouragement, Brenda.
Your Blog tells usto listen closely to what He is directing one to do,and strive to do it. Thanks for this message. Bob H
Sent from my iPad
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Thanks Bob. My listening skills still need some work but I’m learning!