“Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockle shells,
And pretty maids all in a row.”
There’s just something about a garden whether it be a vegetable, flower, or fields of grain. As I gaze among them with awe, I see and admire the beauty in the backdrop of creation. By far, my garden is not even comparable to the awe-inspiring gardens of those featured in magazines. Each year we set out to plant a garden with hopes of it being better than the year before. We prep the soil in order for it to be less clay like and more fertile. We fuss about whether to plant seeds or plants already started from our local stores. We buy the plant food and the things needed to keep grub worms and pests away. There is also a fence around the garden to keep out the sweet, wild bunnies that love to eat away the vegetation as well as the slithering things that hide away in the brush to prey on their next meal. In all our efforts to make a beautiful garden, we constantly fall short of the goal. Each year brings a new challenge leaving our garden not so appealing let alone tended to.
One day while mowing, I noticed the amazing beauty in the wildflowers that had sprung up all over the place. We were blessed with abundant rainfall this summer so when we were finally able to mow, it was a jungle out there. Looking out on the paths to mow, there were hues of different colors, not to mention random flowers popping out from everywhere. They were growing effortlessly, without rhyme or reason and the end product, amazing beauty! Staring at the garden we planted, the urge to mow over it became more appealing as it didn’t seem right to mow over the beautiful volunteer garden that my eyes became fixated on.
This beauty didn’t leave the forefront of my mind so easily after mowing. Before long, the pictures from the beauty of that day “tilled” my heart and brain as it brought forth the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:1-23). Why did this beauty captivate my very being? Why did the Parable of the Sower come to the surface? One morning as I listened to a sermon on the radio I understood why. The pastor spoke of sin and would you believe he worked gardening into it! The part that stuck with me the most was when he said, “When gardeners go to plant a garden, they do not plant nor do they reserve a plot for weeds.” You see, gardeners, do the very things that my family sets out to do every year with our garden. They work the soil and apply water, foods and fertilizers needed for the plants to grow bigger bearing fruit and vegetation pleasing to the eye. Gardeners hate weeds so they toil and sweat through the summer heat, pulling them protecting the tender vegetation before them. They even apply pesticides to keep the grubs and critters away that are a threat BUT they leave no room for weeds.
Looking out in the world today and even reflecting upon myself, it became clear that we all are in need of weeding. We have become more accustomed to presenting our gardens (aka lives) pleasing to the eyes of others. We’ve become far too busy chasing after things that do not matter and we don’t have time to tend to our hearts. (Luke 11:39) As a Church, we resemble the Pharisees and have planted/reserved plots of weeds (head knowledge) and have choked-out the tender vegetation the Lord has planted within us (our souls). We have fallen in love with “the heart wants what the heart wants” forgetting that our hearts are desperately wicked. (Jeremiah 17:9). Our fences of protection compromised with weeds and our hearts hardened, blinding us to real truth, as we trade it willingly for a lesser (worldly) truth. We no longer want to tend to breach that has taken place in our lives and celebrate it instead. We’ve become puffed up in our head-knowledge and political correctness we fail to realize them as the same slithering serpent lurking around in the beginning and we are the prey. (Genesis 3) We then blame the One who loves us unconditionally with an everlasting love and who is faithful (Jeremiah 31:3) for the weeds that bind us to the world, when the blame and unfaithfulness rests on us alone. Ugh, what is one to do?
The first thing we should do is go back to protection fence , which is the Bible, to see where the compromise happened. The world tells us that the Bible is irrelevant to our lives today and that the Lord is not the same yesterday, today or tomorrow and that our circumstances today make things different.(Hebrews 13:8) What’s ironic in this statement is that sin is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. There is no new sin to God yet it maybe new to us. When you dig into His Word, the weeds (sin) that so easily ensnare us show themselves throughout its pages. This is how our Master Gardener begins toiling the soil (hardness of our hearts) and removing the weeds (sin) bringing forth the tender vegetation that has been choked-out. Once we acknowledge where the compromise and breach in security occurred, we confess our faults and failures.(1 John 1:8-9) He then begins the restoration process through healing and bringing back to life what was hidden. Sometimes this is very painful as He pulls away at the root of our weeds, but He is faithful (Philippians 1:6) to complete this good work in us. He provides the rainfall (love) and supplies food as well as fertilizers (His Word) making your foundation firm and strong in Him. (1 Peter 5:10) He applies insecticides (His Truth) to keep the bugs and insects (lies and false truths) away. This all works together bringing about a bountiful garden that produces fruit and vegetation appealing to His eye regardless of what the world says.
Our garden became overridden with bindweed as you can clearly see in the pictures. The gate utterly compromised for critters to take over the garden and while it did produce some vegetation it was just not the harvest hoped for. The bindweed was just part of the problem! We lacked the discipline and faithfulness to do the hard work necessary to keep it up. Through this, the Lord revealed areas in my life where compromised fencing gave birth to sin BUT there is Good News. It’s not only for Christians, but everyone!
For we are God’s masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.