Last summer I was given a task that I had never done before. The job, at the time, seemed simple and at first got me pretty excited, giving way to grand visions of what it could be and how to go about it. This task was to oversee a garden from start to finish! Seemed simple enough, so i began down a summer chore that would end up teaching me far more spiritual lessons than I would have ever anticipated.
The process of gardening is very much a mirror to the process of the development of our spiritual lives.
You realize the lack of meaning and purpose of a plot in your yard and feel an urge to strip it down and start something that matters. (There comes a point where you realize the brokenness of your life and realize the need to make a change and start over new.)
You either rent or borrow a tiller and take time breaking the land apart and digging deep to purge the soil of any unwanted life to compete with what you know you want to grow in your garden. (You open your heart to Jesus and let His love and forgiveness wash deep into your past and pull up the roots of sin that so readily desire to block the spiritual fruit that you’d like to harvest).
You understand that nothing good will grow without first sowing seed, so you create clear defined rows with specific seeds in specific rows so you know what you will get. (You become aware of the spiritual principle of sowing and reaping, and desire to reap a good harvest of spiritual fruit and blessings, so you begin to sew love, gentleness, goodness knowing that there are spiritual laws at hand).
Along with sowing seeds comes watering, so you faithfully water your seeds and wait. (You realize that you must continue to nourish the fruits of the spirit to see the harvest, so you continue in your ways and give them room to develop and grow).
After a few days you sit back and realize that all is well in your garden, and that you can now see the first signs of sprouting life! (Your spiritual walk feels amazing after such an amazing experience with God and His love! Sowing and watering your spiritual seeds is the best thing ever, and life is super awesome!)
You walk outside to tend to your garden the next morning and suddenly notice there are roughly one million other plants growing, and somehow they’re all bigger than your seeds already! Oh no….weeds….(One day something not ideal happens and then you realize it….being a Christian doesn’t make your life 100% perfect all the time…)
You spend the next several hours meticulously weeding in and through and around your rows of vegetables until order in the garden is finally restored! (You spend the rest of the day realizing that you still can get frustrated and angry at people, things, life, etc. and realize that it takes time and dedication to do the work needed to ripen your fruit).
With order returned you finally can be at ease, until tomorrow comes and there are twice as many weeds as before….(You feel good about how you figured things out in your first “sticky situation” as a Christian, so you now can successfully handle it, until tomorrow is an even rougher day…)
Over the next several weeks you battle weeds, bugs, too much rain, too little rain, too much sun, not enough sun, and everything inbetween. (As your spiritual walk progresses you see ups and downs, victories, failures, support, loneliness, and everything else).
Then the harvest comes and you realize that all that work produced this plant that you eat and it gives back to you in the form of vitamins, minerals, calories, health benefits, and you feel something truly amazing eating something that you tended to. (Then you see the fruits of the spirit have victory over sin, you see the fruit as your default more often than not, and it feels oh so amazing to be led by the spirit!).
Then the next season of sowing and reaping begins. (And then you take the next step forward on your long spiritual journey).
That may have seemed long winded, but I cannot emphasize the amazing parallels between gardening and your spiritual life. It is truly a task that needs daily tending! For different seasons there will be different levels of harvest and different challenges that come with them, but it’s important to realize that every season, whether a school season or summer season, you need to tend to your garden as if it’s your job! Because ultimately it is; this is your life after all!
When gardening I had some crops that I spent hours and hours on and they gave me so much I couldn’t even come close to eating it all, some that gave me just a handful of blueberries, and others that after all that time and effort died and never made it. This too has happened with seasons of my spiritual walk. But when all's said and done we have to recognize our part is to plant, water, and weed (remove sin), God brings the fruit into fruition when we show ourselves faithful to Him.