Planting A Spiritual Garden

I have to admit I was blessed with a green thumb (inherited from my father who for as long as I can remember has been a landscaper). Growing up in Illinois my dad owned his own landscaping company, and although I really don’t know much about flowers or plants, somehow in my presence they grow. Also, even when they appear to be dying, I can revive them back to health.

However, I don’t necessarily enjoy gardening in any way, shape, or form. Getting my hands dirty with mother earth isn’t my idea of fun. I don’t like dirt, especially under my nails, and I don’t like what lives in the dirt either (no creepy, crawly insects for me)!

But, my daughter on the other hand loves playing in the dirt. In fact, for her the dirtier she gets, the better she likes it. And I’m all for it as long as I don’t have to join in. She would play outside for hours on end digging and raking the dirt. Her greatest joy is finding all the little bugs and picking them up only to rebury them again in the dirt. She must take after her papa!

You know sometimes I think back to my childhood and I can remember going with my mom to visit my dad on one of his jobs. (It’s like a vivid dream.) He always wore blue jeans and either a white or blue T-shirt (at least that’s how I remember it).  As we drove up to the house at which he was working, I can see him putting back-breaking effort into his labor. His skin was and still is a permanent shade of tan from the many, many hours in the hot sun. Getting closer I could see how his muscles rippled and the sweat dripped off his brow. Occasionally, he would stand or sit up and wipe his forehead, only to stoop back down and continue.

Wow, this makes me think of all the things I took for granted as a child. The whining and begging for new clothes, CD’s, toys, and electronics seems so meaningless now. And in some strange way things really haven’t changed much since my childhood days and the kids of today.

I still remember going with my dad on one of his jobs to rake leaves. Of course, it was fall time and it had been raining (not a fun scenario if you have to rake leaves)! Anyways, I’m not even sure why I went with him. Probably, the most likely reason is my dad had given me a cash incentive, and I work very well under cash incentives! (Don’t we all?) I think I lasted a whole minute before I was complaining, and soon I ended up sitting in my dad’s truck watching him and the other workers finish the job. And I even think he ended up paying me for my half-hearted efforts that day.

You know, I’m sure you can pick up any magazine or get on the Internet and research all the health benefits of gardening and that sort of thing. But, I just want to pose a different kind of thought to you today. I often wonder what would happen if I were to put half the effort into my spiritual life that I put into my everyday life.

If I took the time to really work at my relationship with God, a little back-breaking, sweaty work, what kind of things would grow? You probably know just as well as I do that there would be some good results (some lovely “flowers” growing). Yet, sometimes I choose to focus my efforts elsewhere, and when that happens I don’t grow lovely things; instead, I grow weeds.

But, maybe the bigger picture is that I’m not the gardener; God is. And you and I are just part of His enormous garden. Maybe some of us are flowers, trees, shrubs, grass, or even mulch or moss. The great thing is that we all have a role to play. Each of us in our own special way contributes a special quality to the garden of God. We each have a voice and a unique gift that we’ve been given in order to share God’s Word to the world. And when we unite, together we form a grand company.

Jesus said: “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more (John 15:1,2, New Living Translation).

I hope that you will find it in the garden of your heart to allow God to be your Master Gardener. And that you will allow His labor of love to plant a new life within you. In return, you will produce a beautiful piece that will add abundance to the garden of God!