To say that I am not a gardener is an understatement, but I have always had a desire to be. I have planned out several gardens on paper, deciding what I would grow, and picturing bountiful harvests that filled my kitchen to the brim. I even purchased a some canning tools and a book full of everything I would ever want to know about preserving fruits and vegetables. I did all of this for years without ever actually getting in the dirt.
Well, this year, I decided it was time…time to stop dreaming and to start hoeing. So David and I (mostly David because after all he has the manpower AND the ability to read seed packages and get spacing perfect…plus I can’t handle being micromanaged through a project) tilled up a few small patches of land and planted some seeds. And to our amazement, the seeds sprouted. We daily began to water them and make sure they had sufficient sunlight…and one day I looked out over the garden and asked David something like “How many seeds did we plant?” Everywhere we looked in our garden patches, there were things growing. We weren’t sure which ones we had planted and which ones were just growing on their own, but we were sure that not everything was going to be an asset to our harvest.
After a week or two of watching our garden become a weed factory, I decided it was time to do something about it. I got on my hands and knees and crawled through the dirt pulling up anything that was outside of our neatly (okay, perfectly…because after all they were done by David) planted rows. Not only did this process take HOURS of slow, methodical work, but I was absolutely ASTOUNDED at the ratio of weeds that had grown as opposed to healthy vegetables and fruits. I also realized that many of the weeds grew themselves close enough to my future harvest to enwrap themselves in the roots. Believe me when I say, the weed invasion would have eventually killed anything and everything we had planted.
And weeds weren’t even the only danger to our small gardens. There are also insects that want to come in and feast before we have the chance and diseases that can kill our plants before they even get a chance to produce fruit. Planting a garden is a fight. It takes more work than just scattering a few seeds and saying a prayer that they will grow. It takes a daily awareness of what is going on outside, daily attention to the needs of what is growing, and daily examination to make sure the weeds, the insects, and the diseases are kept at bay.
After even just a few weeks of being a gardener, I am amazed at how God created this earth to be a purposeful lesson to us about Him and about our lives lived out for Him. It’s why Jesus OFTEN told parables involving sowing and reaping…planting and harvesting. The people living in that day LIVED off the land that God had provided. They didn’t have grocery stores or processing plants. They worked their land…and as they worked it, they learned about Him and they learned about themselves.
We ARE the garden. When we become a Christian and enter into a commitment with Christ, we become part of His Garden. Sometimes just the preparation required to begin to plant seeds is challenging and painful. Sometimes our ground is really, really HARD and the tilling takes a while and new soil sometimes has to be added. Sometimes we have some major deficiencies in our soil and Christ (our Gardener) must add nutrients to our soil before He can begin to plant things in our lives. Sometimes we are very tempted to give up before the planting ever begins…and many do because the preparation is more than they are willing to go through. Others simply stay in the same preparation their whole lives, never receiving seed because they aren’t willing to cooperate with the Gardener or to walk through the pain of being tilled up and hoed until they are ready for use. Just don’t let anyone tell you that this Christianity thing is an easy, sloppy life where you do your thing and Christ does His… where you’re not really enemies anymore, but not really friends either…where you can jump up on the fence and decide every day which side you want to be on. You ARE His garden.
I would think that once the preparation is complete and we are ready for seeds that the hard work is over…that it is time for the fun stuff… watching fruit grow and harvesting and eating…but truly, it has just begun. When we receive the seed of the Word in our hearts, we have received a bigger responsibility than we have ever had. When we step out into the world of faith, we better be ready to watch, to water with prayer, to spend our days in the Son…and to pick weeds. See, Christian lives left to chance will just become weed filled patches of uselessness in the Kingdom that can sometimes even take over other part of the fruitful Garden. As soon as planted seeds begin to grow in our hearts, so do the weeds…and the weeds totally intend to take over and to choke out any fruit. If you haven’t guessed, weeds have a direct correlation to sin. Sin in the heart of a Christian may start out as something totally unthreatening. I mean, sin…just like weeds…sometimes looks to contribute to the “green” in our lives. Sometimes it is really hard to tell the weeds apart from the true seed… they are green, they look healthy, they seem to thrive even better than the fruit…insects and diseases rarely attack them. Yes, sin is MUCH easier to grow in your garden…it grows twice as fast and 100 times easier than fruit…and it soon will overtake, if we don’t do the hard work of ridding ourselves of it.
I don’t want to talk here about big, outward sins that are obvious to the world. Let’s talk about things like bitterness, wrath, evil speaking, gossip, self centeredness, selfishness, self righteousness, hate, unkindness…all of these weeds creep in and grow in the heart. They are stealth, like a ninja. They come in softly and slowly, but before you know it, they are killing your fruit. Before you know it, ALL that hard work that you had gone through to be prepared, all that planting that Christ had done in your heart, all those steps of faith that you had taken…are being overrun by sin. It is rendering you useless.
The weeds cannot stay if we ever hope to see a harvest. In our world today, we have kinda pushed the harvest to unimportant…I mean, after all, we have grocery stores, junk food, and processing plants. We have prosperity on a silver platter… as long as we make it to heaven, who really cares if we have any crowns to lay at the feet of Jesus. We are comfortable in our seedless gardens or with our weeds overtaking whatever we are growing. Hard work is a thing of the past…didn’t you hear, we are trying to make our lives EASIER, Jesus?
Very few people in this world today will actually make it to Jesus’ feet with a harvest. When I say that, I mean we would probably be shocked it all the fluff of this world was gone and we could see what each of us are really standing on. The only reason that America has more “Christians” than any other nation is because it is so EASY to be a Christian here. You bring a Communist government to America…one that requires that you renounce Christ or pay a price…and we would see how many of us are truly harvesting fruit…how many of us are all in. Who knows that it is not far off?
So my point and my cry to myself and to all of my friends is PAY ATTENTION… Daily examine your life…DAILY… Daily water it with prayer and feed it with the Word… Daily live in the SON. Daily pull the weeds (and don’t you know that they try to grow back faster if you don’t get them from the root). Do NOT give up! Do NOT get weary! Get around people who will encourage you in what God has called you to. BE the LIGHT. He who has ears to hear let him hear what the Spirit is saying.