Springtime Gardening

Last Thursday was the first day of spring, which just happens to be my favorite season of the year. It’s a time of new birth and new beginnings. One of my greatest frustrations when we lived in Maryland was that spring came so late in the year compared to Texas. I’m looking outside right now at a bush that has burst into bloom. The Bradford Pear trees have already flowered and are covered with beautiful leaves. The dead grass is daily being replaced with new growth. This is the time of year when my nose runs and my soul soars, simultaneously.

flower.jpgI thank you, Lord, for spring. The new life blossoming around me reminds me of the new life the Lord gave to Christ, which is the hope of Christians everywhere. We have something that we want everyone to enjoy: eternal life that springs from God the Father himself!

This weekend we started a family project — we are creating a vegetable garden. I remember with longing the delicious taste of fresh produce picked from my grandpa’s garden every summer. I used to sit and snap beans and watch Bonanza with him on lazy summer afternoons…the sound of the window AC unit in the kitchen and the portable fans murmured in the background. Grandma used to cook these giant green beans with small, whole potatoes and a tiny bit of bacon for flavoring….yum! I can’t wait!

Thinking about gardening made me think about the various ways that gardens are mentioned in the Bible. Here are a few tasty tidbits I’ve dug up that the Lord planted (puns intended!):

In Isaiah 58, the Lord outlines what he considers true worship. We can deny ourselves food for a few days and fast, but he’d rather we share our food with the hungry. When we take care of others, we are showing true worship and will be granted several promises!

6 “No, this is the kind of fasting I want:
Free those who are wrongly imprisoned;
lighten the burden of those who work for you.
Let the oppressed go free,
and remove the chains that bind people.
7 Share your food with the hungry,
and give shelter to the homeless.
Give clothes to those who need them,
and do not hide from relatives who need your help.

If we do these things, then we are promised….

8 “Then your salvation will come like the dawn,
and your wounds will quickly heal.
Your godliness will lead you forward,
and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind.
9 Then when you call, the Lord will answer.
‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.

“Remove the heavy yoke of oppression.
Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors!
10 Feed the hungry,
and help those in trouble.
Then your light will shine out from the darkness,
and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.
11 The Lord will guide you continually,
giving you water when you are dry
and restoring your strength.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like an ever-flowing spring.

Isn’t that a beautiful picture? I would love for the condition of my heart, my soul, my mind, and my body to be like a well-watered garden. Lately I’ve been feeling parched. If I were an early spring flower, like a tulip, I’m afraid my leaves might be a little curled and my petals a bit rusty. My focus has been inward these past several weeks, trying to get our family over various illnesses. Oh, I’m feeling a bit convicted now!

falls.jpgIf I want to spring forth and flow with energy like a gushing mountain stream, then I’ve got to get my thoughts going upwards and outwards and stop wallowing in my mud.

4 This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Jeremiah 29

I’ll remember that verse when I’m pulling weeds!

While I’m on the subject of weeds, Jesus used the imagery of a farmer and gardening to describe the Kingdom of Heaven in Matthew 18:

24 Here is another story Jesus told: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. 25 But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away. 26 When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew.
27 “The farmer’s workers went to him and said, ‘Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?’
28 “‘An enemy has done this!’ the farmer exclaimed.
“‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked.
29 “‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.’”

31 Here is another illustration Jesus used: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. 32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.

Jesus used the mustard seed many times to make a point. It is amazing that such a tiny seed grows into a robust plant. As an object lesson, Cadi and I will plant a mustard seed in one corner of our garden. We’ll first look at its seed versus the seeds of other vegetables and then see what grows the biggest! Jesus said even if we have a tiny, mustard-seed sized faith, we can literally move mountains in His name.

I am not known to have a green thumb. Brown, yes. There is a reason that all the plants inside my house are artificial. It will take faith and much prayer for our little garden to grow, but I am confident that the Lord is able to grow great things through me — even though my thumbs are pretty brown. When this little garden is successful and I post photos of our progress, be sure to give credit to the Lord! All glory goes to Him alone!!

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