We garden. More like we attempt to garden. One of the reasons we want to move is to find property to satiate our hunger to be in the soil and grow more of what we eat. Over time, God has been fine tuning that desire and shaping what appears to be a calling. More on that when He makes His desires more evident to us…
The first couple years we planted vegetables in our small plot, it would be overrun with weeds by midsummer. Grass and the like would invade to the point of overcoming our tomato and cucumber plants. It became obvious that our little garden was a lost cause and we would mow it down, resolving to do a better job next year. Really, it came down to laziness. It was fun to weed in the Spring when the weather was mild and the soil was loose. As the summer dried the ground and heated the air, we would get sweaty and tired of yanking and tugging those stubborn predators from the earth. It was easier to simply let the whole garden go.
Then we happened upon this book–a real “must read” for any serious back yard gardener–and one of his methods leaped off the page. He suggested disturbing the soil around the vegetables on a very regular basis–say every day or two–with a garden rake or hoe or your implement of choice. This way the weed seeds don’t have time to germinate and sprout and the soil also stays nice and loose if an occasional weed needs pulling later.
It worked beautifully. Every day for weeks and weeks, Charlie would dutifully head to the garden to run his claw-fingered rake through the soil and we had very few weeds and a bumper crop of tomatoes and the like throughout the summer. Not only did our garden thrive, the routine maintenence connected us to the soil and plants.
Our life in Christ is similar to our garden–so much so, that I dare say a book is in my future, even if hubs and I are the only ones who ever read it! It’s no wonder that our first images of human life take place in a garden with God walking and talking with Adam and Eve amidst the wonders of His creativity. Intentional things are planted in our lives–relationships, ministry, opportunities–and it is obvious that those things are meant to bear fruit. But, then the weeds come. Distractions, sin, trespass, ignorance. Over time, they over run the garden. They choke out our ability to bear spiritual fruit, sometimes to the point of death.
There is hope, though, in disturbing the soil of our hearts. Herein lies the key to uprooting and preventing ineffectiveness. By allowing God, the Master Gardener, to meet with us and rake through us with His Word and truths, it is more difficult to for sin to take root. We must offer ourselves daily to His scrutiny, to His careful attention to detail, trusting that though it may be uncomfortable or even painful, the sifting of our soil is meant for our ultimate good. And so that we can bear fruit. That is, after all, the point of life in Christ–to know God and make Him known.
So, how do we let the soil of our hearts be disturbed? First, we must spend time daily in the Word of God. There are of course a variety of arguments for ignoring this simple command, but each argument’s final destination is fruitless. The Word of God is a gift to us, meant to encourage, inspire, rebuke, teach, correct, direct, save. Even a few moments of focus on scripture will yield a bountiful harvest. Second, we must spend time in God’s presence. This is not the same as reading the Bible. Sitting before the Lord and waiting on Him is key to being continually grafted in the vine. He is happy for us to share our thoughts and fears and hopes and dreams and concerns, but He also wants us to wait patiently and open-eared before Him as He imparts through the Holy Spirit. Third, we must also act. When we are prompted to call that friend or right that wrong or change our plans for the day, we must do so. Simply knowing God’s will is not enough–acting upon it is necessary if we want to bear spiritual fruit.
I’m reminded and challenged as I re-read this that I often fail in one or more of these areas and the end result is always the same–an ugly weed of sin. Whether it is a bad habit, an angry countenance or a sharp word, there are consequences for keeping the Gardener away from the garden. Lord, work in and through me regularly. Weed this over run heart of mine and help me to bear fruit for Your glory. Help me to look to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.