I love to garden. I enjoy the work of getting it all ready for spring. I enjoy the feeling of the dirt (and mulch) under bare feet. And I always wait impatiently to be able to plant the seedlings that have been started in the green house.
For the last few weeks we have been busy getting our garden ready. Right now, it is weed free. We are adding more and more mulch to it, to make it easier to maintain. The mulch holds the water in the ground, keeps weeds from growing, and gives nutrients to the soil for healthy plants.
And as my sisters and I have been working, I have been thinking. About the garden. About news that my sisters and I share as we are working together. About what my brothers share with me, about themselves, what friends have told them. About new lives beginning — about ten sweet little ones due around July/August. About marriages between friends, their courtships, and their plans. About my own desires. About what it would be like to farm for your families livelihood. About life.
And I have been thinking about how the task of gardening relates to all this.
You see, before our Heavenly Father draws us to himself, we are like the garden in winter. Bare. Brown. Full of weeds. Our lives are full of sin, and the consequences of that sin. Then, He prepares our lives as we prepare the soil. Before we can plant anything come springtime, we must prepare. We must cultivate the land. Make it fertile. Break up the ground so that the seeds will have room to grow strong roots. So must He in our lives. He must break us, work us, until we are ready to receive His Word. To believe it as truth. Until we are ready to admit that we are sinners and cry out for forgiveness. Until His Word will deeply convict us and our foundation in His Word is strong and sure. One that will not be shaken. Easily swayed by the words and doctrines of men.
Then He plants the seed of faith, and must cultivate it, just as we do with the seeds and little plants in our garden. As our garden grows, we keep weeds out. The weeds harm the fragile plants. They steal nutrients away from the plants, that they need to survive. They steal the water. The can even grow so tall that they steal the sunshine, leaving the plants in the shade. We watch carefully for the parasitical bugs that draw life from the plant, keeping it from becoming strong and producing healthy fruit. Just as we are busy attending to the needs of our garden, He is busy attending to the needs of our lives. He convicts us. Teaches us. Sanctifies us. Helps us to weed out all the evil and sin in our lives. Gives us the desire to destroy all the ambitions that would not give Him glory. To give up the actions and attitudes that we harbor that do not reflect others to Him. And just as getting out in the hot sun and sweating while pulling weeds isn’t very glamorous, neither is this task. We have to get down to the nitty-gritty. Pull out the roots. It requires sacrifice — our desires for His.
We desire for our plants to produce enough to sustain us through the winter. That is our goal. We desire for our plants to be strong and healthy and fruitful. We add mulch to protect them. To protect the roots from the sun’s harsh rays. To keep water around them, so that they will not dry out and shrivel up. To keep weeds from sprouting up, making our work easier. Our Saviour has given us this same sort of protection. His Word. His very own Word, inspired by Himself. We are to read it, glean from it, study it. For in doing so we are encouraged to press on. To continue fighting our sin nature. We are taught to love Him more. To desire what He desires. To think His thoughts after Him. We are given the means through His Word to have a firm foundation. A strong one. One that will not be shaken as we see the people around us veering to the right and left of the narrow way. One that will not act as our friends do, just because we are surrounded by them and they are all acting in this way, but one that seeks to know God’s will for his or her life. His Word protects us from the world’s harsh ways. From the wiles of the idols and the god of this world, Satan, the father of lies. We must remember that He will never own anything unfruitful. Just as we would never allow any plant in our garden to exist, taking up space and nutrients to grown big, and never give us a taste of anything good.
These are the thoughts I have been having. So often my own garden is struggling. So often I have no desire to rip out, yet again, the same weeds of sin. To dig down to the roots. There are times when I really don’t even feel like trying to give up my desires. To lay them down in sacrifice at His feet. Too often I try to work through my own strength to get the results I want, instead of asking His help along my way.
May the Lord work continually through all of us to produce a fruitful, beautiful garden, always reflecting the glory back to Him!