I have just returned from Surrey British Columbia where I facilitated a spirituality of gardening seminar with A Rocha, a wonderful organization that does environmental education, community-based conservation projects and sustainable agriculture.
To be honest I was rather envious of their beautiful rows of vegetables – kale and carrots, brussel sprouts and cabbages in lush rows. And in the barn where we met, boxes of onions and garlic as well as bags of dried beans waiting to be threshed.
When I returned home to my own messy, overgrown and very weedy garden I was amazed that it too was loaded with produce. Beans, tomatoes and basil all waited in abundance for me to harvest them.
I was immediately reminded of this scripture:
So the ones who water and plant have nothing to brag about. God, who causes the growth, is the only One who matters. The one who plants is no greater than the one who waters; both will be rewarded based on their work. We are gardeners and field workers laboring with God. You are the vineyard, the garden, the house where God dwells. I Cor 3:7-9 The Voice.
In the garden our job is to prepare the soil, plant and nurture the seedlings. Then we sit back, relax and watch God make the plants grow and produce fruit.
In life too our job is to prepare the soil, the community in which others can grow and produce fruit. We may plant seeds, then water and pull a few weeds, but it is God who makes people grow into the people they are intended to be.
There is nothing more satisfying in the garden than watching God grow a plant, and there is nothing more satisfying in our Christian walk than watching those we have discipled grow and flourish. We need to learn new lessons from the garden and stick to our job – preparing the soil, planting, watering and weeding, but allowing God full reign in the growth of the plants.
What is your response?
Think about the seeds you have planted in the lives of people around you. What harvests have you seen their lives produce? Offer prayers of gratitude for God’s growth in their lives.
Now think of the seeds that others have planted in your life. How have you seen these flourish and grow? Write a letter of thanks to those who have planted and nurtured your growth.
We can kill but only God can make things grow one of the participants in my seminar commented. The truth of this resonated in my heart as I thought about the parallels with life. In the garden we can easily kill what we have planted. Through neglect or sometimes through too much care we kill what we should have nurtured. Plants more often die through over watering than through under watering.
In life too only God has the ability to make things grow. But we can certainly kill – we kill people through wars and indifference to suffering. We kill the image of God in people through abuse and oppression and we kill creativity by trying to remake them in our image instead of in the image of God. Planting too early, planting in the wrong soil, giving too much water and fertilizer can all kill the new disciples we so earnestly want to see become mature followers of Jesus with a rich crop of fruit.
What is your response?
Prayerfully think of those you know who have not produced the harvest you suspect God intended for them. Are their ways in which your actions may have killed God’s ability to grow them and stifled their ability to become the people God intended them to be?What changes might God ask of you so that you are less controlling?
Now think of your own life. How willing have you been to trust God in your own growth or have you tried to control and manipulate what God is doing? Prayerfully seek God’s forgiveness and relinquish your life to God.
Listen to the song below by Steve Green. Is there anything else that God is prompting you to do?