Six Lessons From My Garden
I enjoy being outdoors on a mild, sunny day. I know it’s not wise but I love to feel the sun on my back and shoulders. I worked in the garden today, and as is often the case when I’m outside in nature I thought of analogies between my activity and biblical or spiritual lessons.
None of these lessons are profound, but I feel that sometimes the simplest of lessons can be applied to our daily lives and benefit us as much as the deeper truths that the Lord chooses to reveal to us.
First and foremost: dress correctly.
It makes no sense to work in the garden in an evening gown and high heels! Comfortable, homely clothes, a hat and gardening gloves are a no brainer. In a similar way, we have to dress our inner man. There are a few scriptures that come to mind in this regard. The Bible tells us what virtues to “put on” and what things to “take off”.
Colossians 3v5-14 (excerpt)
“…since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self… Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience…And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
Ephesians 6v10-17 speaks about putting on the armour of God (excerpt)
“…put on the full armor of God…”
Secondly: use the right tools
I could have used a kitchen fork and a steak knife to weed my garden but it would have taken a long time and they would probably have bent and broken before I was finished. So, although they are useful, they are not right for the job. I could have used my little hand-sized spade to hack away at the edges of the lawn to trim it back out of the garden beds, but although the spade may be a garden tool it is not made for edging the lawn.
In the same way, God has given us tools to use in our daily walk with Him. Prayer, fasting, personal Bible study, praise and worship, and fellowshipping with other believers are some of the tools God has given us. People try other things like yoga, reading self-help and self-improvement books; all of which have benefits, but they are not perfect for the job. Sooner or later they are going to come up short and ineffective.
My third point: persistence.
I last weeded my garden about a month ago. Today I pulled out a refuse bag full of weeds and old plants. I have to pay regular attention to my garden or the weeds will take over and strangle the other plants and cover the pathways. The fact that I weeded a month ago makes no difference to the new weeds.
Weeds can be an analogy for worldliness. If we do not tend to our spiritual lives often, worldliness grows and can eventually take over. Looking after the state of our inner man has to be done persistently, consistently and with the endurance of a long-distance athlete.
New challenges, new temptations, and new struggles present themselves daily. The longer you leave a weed in the ground the bigger it gets and the harder it is to dig it out. The same with unrighteousness. The sooner you allow the Holy Spirit to highlight the areas of worldliness in your life the sooner it can be dealt with and eradicated.
It’s common knowledge that weeds have to be pulled out by the root or they will just grow back. Likewise, we should focus our efforts on the root of the struggles we face in our lives if we want to rid ourselves of them for once and for all.
My forth point: everything has a place
A well-tended green lawn is a beautiful thing, but grass in the flower beds or encroaching on the pathways isn’t that great. In the same way, flowers and shrubs decorate my garden but I don’t want those flowers and shrubs springing up in my lawn or between the paving bricks. Trees, hedges and shrubs that get too big and grow beyond the boundaries of the suburban garden can look untidy as well as scratch passersby. Not to mention interfering with the electric fence when it rains (a typically South African problem).
The analogy that I drew from this is that we need to ensure that all things in our life are in the right place and within reason. Let me elaborate. Love is a good thing when it is shared among the right people in the right situation. But when it is shared inappropriately it is no longer good.
The same can be said if you have a calling, a passion or a conviction to help others, enrich the lives of others or make the world a better place. If that ministry, as good as it seems, takes you away from God or shifts your focus from God then it is out-of-place in the perfect order of things and it is no longer good.
I must clarify here that I am of the belief that nothing can be good in the sense of being holy, set apart and pleasing to God if it is done in our own strength or for our own fulfillment. What is perceived as good by worldly standards is not necessarily good in the eyes of our Heavenly Father who can look into the heart of man and see what man cannot see.
Proverbs 16v2: “All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord.”
Fifth: is it a weed?
If, while I am weeding, I find a plant but I’m not sure whether or not it is a weed, I leave it. The next time I work in or walk through the garden I will take a look and see how it has grown and developed. The expression of ‘judging a tree by its fruit’ comes to mind.
Similarly, we are not always aware from the onset if something in our life is a weed or not.
The example I have to offer is a new friendship or relationship. As some relationships develop we might find that the person does not bring out the best in us. Possibly they might become abusive or they simply drain us and make our lives miserable.
What about a new hobby, pastime, job or any other opportunity that presents itself? How will we know if it is a good thing or not? A plant or a weed? Prayerfully wait and watch. As it grows you will be able to distinguish it by its fruit. But be sure that you pull it out soon if it presents itself as a no-good weed.
My sixth and final point: camouflage
We have a pair of bunnies as pets. I feed them a variety of plants that grow in our garden. One of the plants they enjoy is considered a weed by some, namely clover. Because the rabbits like it I leave it to grow. Due to the drought, the clover is spreading like wild flowers in our garden beds and it was growing over the geraniums and agapanthus, so I had to put in an effort to control it a bit. Lo and behold when I pulled it out what did I find? Dozens of grass runners making their way under the camouflage of the clover. If I hadn’t decided to remove the clover I wouldn’t have seen the grass hiding away under it.
This situation made me think of the kind of worldliness that is camouflaged as acceptable behaviour due to certain compromises that are made. In other words, socially acceptable ungodliness. A society where some sins are mistakenly viewed as less sinful than others means that we have promoted ourselves and assume we have the right to judge. The truth is we all sin and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3v23), and all sin is viewed the same in God’s eyes.
I hope this blog blesses you. If you enjoy gardening I hope a few of these analogies pop into your spirit the next time you’re working outdoors.
“When you can see God in small things, you’ll see God in all things.”
Donald L. Hicks, Look into the stillness
**Please note that this blog is my interpretation of the scriptures. Please pray for discernment. **