Here I sit with my cast propped high, waiting, waiting for the swelling to dissipate so I can once again hop about in freedom. I must say, non-weight bearing status has grown rather tiresome, and yet, today I am so very thankful to be back at work and out of the house. Yay God! Introverts thrive on alone time, however there can be too much alone time. At any rate, I have had much time to think… Of course, it’s only natural, to ask why when we are in the midst of crisis…that is, after all our fleshly way. However, in God’s economy ‘why’ is not important. Asking the why of things is actually counter intuitive and denotes a lack of trust. Someone recently pointed out that I ask the why question with regularity…. So, I guess I must refocus on being fluid, which is much more accommodating during crises than being adaptable.
If you want to be happy for a few hours, drink a bottle of wine.
If you want to be happy for a weekend, get married and hide away.
If you want to be happy for a whole week, kill a lamb and eat it.
If you want to be happy for all your life long, become a gardener.
Many gardening books start out with much information about soil and with good reason, as the quality of soil greatly impacts growing things. Soil must have the right water content, the correct pH, as well as sufficient nutrients to facilitate spontaneous, lush growth. That said, one of my favorite parables in the New Testament is in the book of Mark. As the story goes, Jesus begins a spiritual seminar by discussing soil quality. How fun is that? What better way to pass an afternoon than to relax by the sea shore, listening to peaceful, lapping waves and learn about my favorite activity—gardening. Truly awesome! This is what He said.
“Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty-fold and sixty-fold and a hundredfold.” And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mar 4:3-9)
As I contemplated this parable in light of my gardening studies, I couldn’t help but think about life and recent events i.e. breaking my leg. I know, I know…not questioning, but trying to reevaluate things with all the extra time…
The soil of my life represents my daily relationship with God. Sometimes my life or the soil is too hard and His seed—Gods word cannot take root. I become hardened, beaten down from heavy traffic i.e. much ministry, so much so that my focus actually turns away from God– forgetting to pray or not acknowledging His presence. It is far too easy to do this. We get busy reviving an old project or launching a new strategy and to balance the day planner we cut down our quiet or prayer time. Or we stay so busy we only pray when convenient. Then there are also those times when worship becomes just a ritual, negating Gods presence all together. We take God for granted. We fail to appreciate His Holy presence. Or we make the assumption God will always be there whether we acknowledge Him or not?
Other days, life is more like the rocky soil and when a crisis comes as with my current situation—leg, leg, leg, BROKEN, faith can fade and wilt like a summer flower.
Gardeners know that weeds and thorns are vicious enemies of healthy plants. They suck the life out of them by putting a choke-hold on growth and maturity. I would say, in my life that nothing strangles and chokes out the fruit of the spirit like griping, mumbling, and grumbling? The Hebrews in the wilderness got in big trouble because of this. And because of it, a whole generation actually lost the privilege of experiencing the promise land. Enough said.
Gardeners spend years perfecting the perfect soil. Each plot of land must be tailored to the individual plants so that it is rich and fertile to sustain health. Basically, all soil is a mixture of four ingredients: clay, sand, chalk, and humus. When the balance is right, you have loam, the ideal soil combination for every kind of plant (Frankl, 1981). The same is true for us. Healthy soil needs continuous prayer, worship, time in the word, and hospitality/good works. When there is a good balance, we will be nourished and grow to fruition i.e. living/dwelling in God’s love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control.
Every gardener worth their salt knows that it is foundational to dig or turn over the soil of the garden. The soil must be broken up periodically and exposed to the climatic influences of the environment such as frost, wind, heat, and rain. Turning over the soil not only improves aeration, but more importantly it speeds up the natural process of burying decay, making more plant food. However, the main worth of organic matter is not to hold moisture and air, but to release nutrients that are used by all the plants.
Today as we contemplate our lives, we must remember that we do not live in a bubble. We live out loud for all to see. Moreover, we live, move, and breath by the Master Gardeners hand.
Thank you Father for Your tender mercies and loving-kindness. As in Isaiah 28: 23-29, You lavishly provide the best loam and cultivate Your goodness in us. We appreciate all you do in Your garden. Praise Your holy name. Amen