I come to the garden

Posted in: 2015
By Tom L. Ballinger
Nov 18, 2015 - 4:48:47 PM

Plainer Words since 1968
Issue # 402
November 15, 2015
I am going to share with you a custom I have developed over the years. I may be peculiar in this respect, but I have learned to mentally study the Bible, or deliberate on Scriptural matters just about anywhere I may be.
At age twenty-three, I had already graduated from Southern Methodist University via the means of a Baseball Scholarship. Gloria and I had married in December 1952. I had played two summers of professional baseball (1953 & 1954) in the Milwaukee Braves Minor League Organization. The Korean War had ended in 1953, but the Draft for military service was still “alive and well.”
In late October 1954, I was Drafted into the U. S. Army. My sixteen weeks of Basic Training took place at Fort Bliss which is located at El Paso, Texas.
In my second Eight Weeks of Basic Training, most of the Training was on 90 millimeter Anti-Aircraft Artillery. The Firing Range was across the State line in New Mexico. The Trainees, of which I was one, had to march 12 miles into New Mexico with a 90 pound pack on our backs and, then, a return march back to Fort Bliss each afternoon. Some nights, we would sleep in Pup Tents in the New Mexico high desert.
The second week of marching into New Mexico, I was called out of Formation to perform extra duty, working on a detail of transporting dirty sheets to the laundry that had been turned into the Linen Supply Depot that  morning. We (the Supply Sergeant, a Corporal who was his Assistant and me) brought-back clean linen from the Base Laundry in a Deuce-and-a-half Truck (that was what the Army called a two-and-a half-ton truck).
The Sergeant and Corporal rode in the cab while I rode in the back of the truck, laying on top of the clean linen and was very glad to have this job. It beat marching into New Mexico and back any day.  It was unloaded back at the Training Facility. I was shown how to inventory the sheets and, then, how to arrange to issue clean linen to the troops when they arrived back in camp from the Firing Range.
Before the troops got back, I spotted a hot-plate in a window. On it was a dirty stainless steel coffee pot. I told the Sergeant that, “I’d like to clean the coffee pot, then, go to the Mess Hall and get a pot of fresh coffee.” He was thrilled for my volunteerism. In fact, that little act of volunteering to fetch a pot of coffee earned me a Clerk Typist job in the Linen Supply Depot. I no longer had to march, fire Anti-Aircraft weapons, and train to be a combat-ready soldier.
My job as a Clerk Typist (“hunt and peck” method) was okay as long as I kept fresh pots of coffee on the hot-plate I was allowed to take breaks at my leisure. But, I would never exceed my privilege.
Next to the Linen Supply Depot were bleachers on the side of the Parade Grounds. On my breaks, I liked to sit in the bleachers and watch the troops practice their Close-Order-Drills. Before our Eight-Week Basic Training was to be over, we had gotten news that we would be shipped overseas to Germany. Most of the Trainees were being shipped to Korea so those guys on Duty, there, could rotate back to the States. Germany was a far better assignment than Korea.
On the day of the announcement, the Salvation Army or the Gideon Bible Society came on Base and passed out pocket-size red Books—“The Gospel of John.” I began to think deeply about my fate. At the time, the fate I seemed to have the most concern was with my earthly life.  My concern was for and about my wife, Gloria, Mom, and Dad. “Will I see them again?” I wondered.
I was able to spend a lot of time in the bleachers with the Gospel of John. It became my friend as I contemplated going to Germany for twenty-one months. Just holding that little red Book in my hands rendered great comfort. I read the Gospel dozens of times. I had, what I thought, so much respect for the Book, I wouldn’t mark in it with a pencil.
When taking breaks in the bleachers, while the “soldier boys” were performing their Close-Order-Drills, I realized I could mentally turn-off  the Cadre’s cadences—left, right, left, right; to the rear march, and Company halt and etc.
I was amazed at how I could block out what was going on in front of me and become immersed in the little red Book—the words of the Gospel of John. This never entered my mind that some forty years later, I would use this technique, at times, to study the Bible in an environment that wasn’t exactly conducive to pondering the Biblical Truths.
One day, while driving, I was listening to a tape of Gospel Songs, and I heard the words of an old favorite song of mine coming from the car speakers; “I come to the garden alone, While the dew is still on the roses; And the voice I hear, falling on my ear, The Son of God discloses, And He walks with me, and He talks with me, And He tells me I am His own, And the joy we share as we tarry there, None other has ever known …”
As I listened to “In The Garden,” I decided I need a Garden that I can mentally go to at anytime or at any place to study God’s Word, or to ponder the “What Ifs” of the Bible. I thought it would be a neat way to expand my study-time. It would be so sweet to project myself into the Garden and know that, “He speaks and the sound of His voice Is so sweet the birds hush their singing; And the melody that He gave to me  Within my heart is ringing …”
The car, that day, became my Garden. It was a wonderful time of fellowship as I would ask the Lord Jesus Christ questions in my mind. I’d ask Him a lot of “What If” Questions.
Many times, my thoughts would be directed to portions of Scripture I needed to check-out. I would scribble notes on whatever was available.  Sometimes, on paper napkins, or the back of an envelope, or three-by-five cards that were in my shirt pocket. Consequently, my notes were scattered, and I would waste time looking for them.
To solve this problem, I started using a 101/2” X 8” Spiral Notebook. I carry the Spiral in my Zipper Folder. The Folder is usually with me in case I want to go into my Garden alone. I have found that I can mentally call-up my Garden and enter it knowing that there might be some interruptions, but I’ll steal as many minutes as I can. My handy Spiral Notebook is by my side and is ready for a few notes that can possibly be used in the future.
I cannot sing, but I can hear the lyrics and melody of the song in my mind; especially, when I am anxious to enter “My Garden.” My favorite verse of “In The Garden” is the second one.
            “He speaks, and the sound of His voice  Is so sweet the birds hush their        singing; and the melody that He gave to me  Within my heart is ringing.
            And He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own …”
No-one knows when I’m in my Garden. I can be in my Garden without an open Bible in front of me. I have enough of the Bible stored in my memory banks to get me through a Garden session—His silent voice can guide me in my thoughts.
By the way, you might remember an Email which was sent to you regarding “Answered Prayer” of my “Lost Zipper Folder.” The incident took place April 2, 2015 when Gary Gifford and I went to the Creation Evidences Museum in Glen Rose, Texas. On the way back to the DeSoto – Lancaster area, we made several stops for Gary to make some Business Calls at Cement Production Companies. One was in Midlothian. He dropped me off at a Truck-Stop Fast Food Restaurant.
My thought was this will be a good place to enter my Garden while Gary makes his Business Call. I carried my Zipper Folder under my arm, bought a cup of iced-tea and sat by the window in a booth. I un-zipped the Folder and removed my Spiral and turned to Page 82. It was not strange that I no longer heard the Country-Western Music that was playing over restaurant speakers—the thought went through my head—the music ceased and I heard,  “…the sound of His voice Is so sweet the birds hush their singing ..”
I pulled the Bic pen from the Zipper Folder and flipped it between my fingers as I wanted to put in writing what I had been turning over in my mind, and so, I wrote:
“There are distinct (separate) callings, standings, hopes, and destinies – the preaching of the Gospel of Grace is not to convert the world, but to take out a people (Acts 15, as I recall); while the world will get worse & worse until the Pre-Millennial Kingdom of God Appears. 2 Timothy 4:1 & Titus 2:13 closes out the Age of Grace.”
I placed the Spiral in the Folder and got up to get another cup of iced-tea. Before I could do that, I saw Gary pulling up in his Rent-A-Car. I turned on my heel and exited the restaurant. We made the drive back to the Dallas area. When Gary dropped me off at my car in DeSoto, I realized I am minus my Zipper Folder and but even more important was what was in it—a shirt-pocket size New Testament and the Psalms. But, even more important were the 82 pages of notes. I can buy the New Testament, but I can’t buy the notes made while in my Garden.
My Garden experiences are not in any way a form of mysticism. It is just being able to block-out distractions of where I am and visualize myself being in a beautiful small garden-setting.
Working at my desk on a Plainer Words with my open Bible is not a Garden experience. Rather, it is my effort to be an unashamed workman, rightly dividing the Word of Truth   (2 Timothy 2:15).
“And He walks with me, and He talks with me, And He tells me I am His own, And the joy we share as we tarry there, None other has ever known.”
Copyright© 2015 by Thomas L. Ballinger
Tom l. Ballinger
1031 Wilson Road
Lancaster, TX 75146
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