Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Into The Garden

"The LORD will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail."  Isaiah 58:11

I've decided I like this new method to blogging. It may not be as exciting to have a post every single day, but it feels good to wait until I REALLY have something to post about- something that God's been speaking to me about.  It gives me time to mull it over, dwell on it and try to extract what I can.  And then I come to the blog and get my thoughts down- it allows me to maintain the blog without being stressful, and that's very nice.

Anyway, I've been challenged as of late to try to find more time to quiet myself, and anyone who knows me and my busy life knows that is a HUGE challenge for me.  I truly have no time to myself, and trying to carve out quiet time is next to impossible.  Yesterday, though, I really felt like I needed to find that time.  So I did the only thing I could think of- I headed for the garden.  I spent well over an hour tending to and working in the garden, and the whole time, God kept dropping little nuggets that spoke to me as I worked. 

One of the things that I did yesterday was tear out perfectly good plants.  I'd planted an over-abundance of cucumbers and green beans in my garden this year, in anticipation of a great harvest.  I didn't get that great harvest.  Our weather was not conducive to these vegetables apparently, because the plants themselves were growing fine, they simply were not bearing fruit. I've had many thoughts over the weeks about removing them and planting something else, but I just kept a hopeful attitude that they would suddenly take off.  Well, yesterday I decided to pull them out.  It was hard work to pull out these established plants, and as I pulled them out of the ground and off the trellis, I was reminded that being pruned by God is definitely hard work.  When you're trying to get something right in your life, it always seems like those are the times the devil works his most mischief and makes it truly difficult to get things right.

I also thought about how the plants I was pulling out WERE good plants, and yet they were being removed to make way for something new. Wow, is that a great parallel for the seasons of life.  Lately I've been thinking about the friends I have on my Facebook account, and how many of them are friends from another time.  Friends who were good, and necessary for that season of life, but now we possibly have little in common.  Just like my plants, which needed to be removed to make way for new, these friends of old needed to be removed to make way for the new friends.  It doesn't make them bad friends at all, it just means that they fulfilled their purpose in my life, and they needed to be removed to make room for the new.

This isn't limited to people and friends.  Maybe for other people there is a season of a job, an activity, or a hobby that needs to come to a close.  It can be a perfectly wonderful thing, but it may be time to put that thing behind you.  I think about how many years ago Andy used to play volleyball one night a week. He did that for many years and enjoyed doing so, but shortly after he became a Daddy, that weekly activity was put aside to make more room for family time, and for the job that also came along.  The volleyball certainly wasn't a bad activity at all, but it was just time to set it aside for something new.

So I was thinking about this as I pulled out these plants yesterday, because I sure was hoping that there wasn't anything that God was about to ask me to put aside.  I don't have much to put aside at this stage in life, to be honest.  But it did make me think about different activities and ministries that I've gone through over the years, and it kind of affirmed to me that it was right to leave those things behind.  Sometimes setting something aside can be painful!  We make connections with friends and the people we do our activities with, and it can hurt to leave those behind and step into something new.

That's when the best part comes though.  Because yesterday,  I worked hard at pulling out those plants, and then I was left with a blank slate to start all over with.  A new season is upon us, as we're creeping up to the threshold of autumn, and it was time to plant the fall garden.  The first step after removing the old, was to fertilize and rejuvenate the soil left behind.  We need to do that too!  Before we plunge headfirst into something new, it's important to take the time to rejuvenate and fertilize- even if it's just a day or two.  We fertilize by digging into God's Word and taking in those words of refreshment and rejuvenation.  When I was working in my garden yesterday, I worked fresh compost into my soil- the best balanced fertilizer there is. Even better, it's completely free because we make compost ourselves.  In the exact same way, when we fill our hearts with God's Word, we know we're putting the best into us- and like my compost, it's absolutely free to all.

Once my garden was properly fertilized, then I took the time to plan what I wanted to plant.  While I could just haphazardly throw seeds, that's not a very effective method of gardening.  Instead, I marked out my soil and planned where each seed would rest.   This was a great reminder to me that God's not just going to throw us into something new without proper planning and preparation.  He's not going to take someone who has been working in the nursery for twenty years and suddenly thrust them into leading a worship service.  Our God is a great God who will help us take the necessary steps to plan and prepare for the new season ahead.  Sometimes, though, we find it difficult to through that stage of planning and preparation- we're so eager to get going with the new!

But then finally, the moment arrives, and we can begin to tackle the new season ahead- the new activity, ministry, job, whatever it is.  Yesterday I finally came to the point where I was able to plant my new seeds.  The hard work I'd gone through in the hours before was coming to fruition as I tucked the new seeds into the soil.

But of course, my work isn't done yet.  Just because we've arrived a the new doesn't mean that I can just walk away and forget what's been done.  I need to keep an eye on those planted seeds.  I need to water (hello, Holy Spirit) my seeds occasionally, and keep an eye out for pests and critters who would like to steal my hard work and rob me of my joy.   We need to also water our new season by staying connected with the Holy Spirit- by staying in our Word and maintaining that relationship with God, our Father. 

For our Father is a master gardener.  He knows exactly when it's time for something to be pruned- and He does it with such love.  Sometimes it can be painful, but He always uses gentle hands and helps to carry us while we go through the painful parts.  He also knows exactly the perfect time to plant something new and cultivate its growth.  He is the vine, and we are the branches- I would not choose to abide anywhere else.

"I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing."  John 15:5

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