In Western Phoenix, Phillip Williams pastors a small Baptist church called, “Church of the Valley.” We were looking for a place to park our van and spend the night so we pulled into the church parking lot and noticed that there was a light on in the church.
I decided to see if anyone was at the church so we could ask for permission to park overnight in the parking lot. The light was coming from an office in the courtyard area of the church but when I looked through the window, the office was unoccupied. I was about to leave when I noticed one of the doors ajar and I heard some voices beyond the door. It was then that I softly knocked and Jane came to the door. I asked if the pastor was there and she brought him to me. He graciously gave us permission to park overnight and then invited us to join them in a Bible study. He and his wife, Jane, and another member of the church, Debbie, had gathered for a Bible study. So Bonnie and I accepted the invitation and joined in a study of Colossians 1:9-14.
Here was yet another example of God giving us opportunity to meet more of our spiritual family. Wherever we’ve gone, we’ve always found others who love and serve Jesus, as we do. Our spiritual family is far larger than we realize. We had a grand time in the Word of God and in fellowship together. It was truly God’s leading for us to be there and give encouragement to others as we ourselves received encouragement from them.
The next morning we fixed our breakfast at a picnic table in the church yard and Pastor Phil stopped on his way to his office that day in order to chat with us and tell us about a place to visit (only a few blocks from the church) called “Caanan in the Desert & the Garden of Jesus’ Suffering and Resurrection.” So we headed out after breakfast to have our devotions at the gardens which are maintained by “Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary” (a Lutheran convent with roots in Germany.
In the center of the garden is a fountain that is constructed with 7 attributes of God written around the edge and a water spigot centered over each of the attributes. The idea is to take a drink of water from the spigot as you contemplate that particular attribute of God. Bonnie and I made our way around the fountain, drinking as we went, and praying for loved ones and friends who needed a touch from God associated with each attribute. It was a blessed time of prayer and meditation upon our Lord.
We then made our way through the gardens and walked the paths that led us to each scene representing the suffering and resurrection of Jesus. We both felt that the garden was well done and is a testimony of God’s grace and love for all people. And those who put their faith in Jesus to be their Sin-Bearer can know the liberation of sin in the here and now as well as the hope of eternal life in the kingdom Jesus has prepared for His family.
The gardens were a place of respite and refreshing and an excellent place to quietly have your devotional time with the Lord. Should you get to Phoenix, be sure to make a visit to these beautiful gardens. And be sure to stop in at the Church of the Valley and say hello to Pastor Phil! Tell him “Art and Bonnie sent you!”