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Intersection of Life and Faith

Gardening can show you how God grows you

  • 2001 4 Apr
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Gardening can show you how God grows you
Growing plants in your garden is a lot like growing yourself in your relationship with God. Just as you work to cultivate flowers, herbs, fruits and vegetables, God continually shapes you into the person He has created you to be.

Some ways gardening can help you see how God wants to grow you as a person:

  • You likely have favorite plants you've chosen especially for your garden. God has chosen you to be His child, and He loves you deeply.

  • Some flowers, such as gardenias and tuberoses, exude beautiful aromas even as they're dying. Whenever you put your own agendas to death and embrace God's will for your life, you will exude sweetness to God and attract the attention of others in a hurting world.

  • A healthy garden needs bees, since bees play a crucial role in pollination. But bees can sting, and gardeners need to take the risk of being stung in order to cultivate a fruitful garden. If you try to avoid the bees of life -- risks that could help you grow -- your life won't be fruitful. But if you take risks God is calling you to take, your life will be enriched.

  • When you grow your own fruits and vegetables, you know them well -- what kind of fertilizer they grew in, whether or not they were tainted by pollution. In your faith, you can depend on others to pray for you, but you won't come to know God very well unless you encounter Him directly by praying regularly yourself and listening for His voice.

  • A garden journal can help you understand what's worked in the past for your garden and plan how you would like to garden in the future. A prayer journal can help you see where you've been with God and where you're headed in your relationship with Him.

  • Plants often need to be staked so they'll be able to grow without drooping. People also often need to be supported. God wants you to accept support when you need it, and to support others to help them bloom.

  • Sometimes plants seem to be dead, but actually still have life left in their roots. If you don't give up on them and give them the attention they need, they'll revive and thrive. Some people seem beyond help, but everyone has potential. If you continue to love people who seem hopeless, they may surprise you by blossoming.

  • Weeds can quickly take over your garden if you're not vigilant about clearing them away. If you let a few days go by without praying or reading your Bible, the weeds of a life unconnected to God can start to sprout, choking your spiritual growth. Once you clear the weeds by connecting to God, your eyes will be opened and you can grow again.

  • Some plants are considered "self-sowers," able to spread vigorously throughout your garden with very little help from you. You can spread God's love to others by reaching out to them whenever you can, in all situations. You don't have to follow any prescribed way of evangelizing others; you just need to be available.

  • Just as compost helps gardens grow, the compost of our lives-tough experiences, mistakes and other struggles -- can help you grow, because God uses hard times to make you more and more into who He wants you to be. When compost heats up, its materials decompose, fertilizing gardens. When God allows the heat to be turned up in your life, attitudes that block your growth in Him start to decompose, clearing the way for you to grow.

  • Gardening magazines and books often feature photos of seemingly perfect gardens, but the pictures are illusions -- they've been manipulated to make real gardens appear better than they actually are. God wants you to be real with Him and others. Don't feel as if you need to be perfect or compare yourself to others. God loves you just as you are and longs for you to be authentic.

  • Just as you prune plants in your garden, God prunes attitudes such as stubbornness or impatience out of your life. It may hurt while God is pruning you, but the process is necessary for you to bear fruit.

  • Plants that are common and taken for granted in one part of the world may be rare and highly prized in another. The blessings you take for granted may be considered precious by someone else who doesn't have them-good health or a car, for instance. Considering the perspective of others will help you appreciate what God has given you.

  • Invasive plants are the bullies of gardens, blocking other plants from growing properly. Don't let the expectations of others that don't align with God's plan for you bully you. Refuse to be overburdened; listen only to God when deciding what and how much to do.

  • If you break some of gardening's often stringent rules, you'll actually see better growth than if you had followed the customary practices. People can come to Christ in unconventional ways as well, but their experiences are genuine. God isn't nearly as interested in people's methods as He is in their hearts.

  • Certain plants require lots of maintenance to thrive. God doesn't mind investing His all into you, but consider whether you are giving your all for Him so the relationship He has with you is delivering the return on investment He would like to see.

  • It's very important to prepare when you garden -- figuring out which materials you'll need, spraying plants so they won't become infested with bugs, softening soil so you can dig, etc. Preparing to one day meet God face to face should be a priority, too. You can do that by turning the events of your life over to Christ so that His character becomes yours.

  • The desert can seem like a lifeless place, but actually, many beautiful plants can grow there. During the desert times of your life -- when you're suffering -- you can grow, too, if you trust God.

  • Pests such as moles, aphids and snails stalk gardens. In your life, you may encounter many irritating situations that pester you. When you do, combat the pests' attacks by claiming God's promises in Scripture for yourself.

  • Every gardener employs a few tricks of the trade. If you feel as if you've lost spiritual enthusiasm, use a few tricks to re-energize yourself, such as visiting a church that features a different worship style than your home church.

  • Old-fashioned gardens are back in vogue. Remember that faith is timeless, and the values Christ calls you to are classics.

  • Just as all gardens are living, growing entities, so is your relationship with God.

  • Gardening often presents obstacles to overcome, such as short growing seasons or arid soil. Life, too, often will present you with obstacles, but God will help you overcome them.

  • You've been called to be a good steward of God's creation, and gardening helps you practice your stewardship. It also fosters a love of nature. Put that love into action by caring for the earth's environment through responsible everyday choices.

Adapted from Gardening Mercies: Finding God in Your Garden by Laurie Ostby Kehler, copyright 2001. Published by Bethany House Publishers, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1-800-328-6109, www.bethanyhouse.com.

Laurie Ostby Kehler is a self-confessed gardening fanatic. She and her husband, Tom, live in the San Francisco Bay area.