Garden lessons for spiritual growth

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My dad was a master gardener. We always had good, fresh vegetables during the summer. We had a clear division of labor in our house, too. My dad grew the food, my mom cooked it, and I ate it. Soon enough I became old enough to join in the work preparing, planting, and tending the garden.

After marrying, I had a garden a few times, but with mixed results. I always enjoy playing in the dirt but haven’t always had the time. After several years’ hiatus, I decided to plant a garden this year.

My garden started out with the idea to plant just a few heirloom tomato plants. Of course, I soon had the idea that a few pepper plants would be good as well. I was probably the last person in Georgia to finally plant my garden. By the time I started I had added squash, cucumber, and watermelon to my roster of veggies.

Spiritual lessons from the garden

I hate to report that this year’s garden has been a moderate failure. I am starting to remember why I went all those years without a garden. But along the way I have learned some spiritual lessons from my garden.

Through the struggles, I’ve seen some parallels between growing a garden and tending my heart.

Battle the weeds diligently

I spend some time each week in the garden with a hoe and rake. Grass and weeds were there before my veggies, and they do not go away easily. If left unattended, the grass and weeds will over take the good things I planted.

Similarly, sin and my old nature ruled my heart long before Jesus took over. The sinful, natural inclinations do not go away automatically. I have to root them out CONSTANTLY. If I neglect my heart, old attitudes and habits will soon take over. – Proverbs 4:23

Break up the hard ground

Over time, the hot, dry days can make the surface of my garden hard and crusty. If I let it stay that way, necessary rain and nutrients cannot get to the roots. I have to use the hoe and rake to break up the hard ground around the plants.

In like manner, the “heat” of everyday life can harden my heart. I can grow calloused and indifferent or worse, bitter and angry. When my heart is hard, I cannot receive spiritual nutrition from God. I spend time daily in prayer asking God to break through the hardness of my heart and keep me teachable. – Hebrews 12:15

Beware of predators

Sadly, most of the garden that I originally planted is gone. My squash and cucumbers succumbed to bacterial wilt. A hook worm ate one of my Jalapeño plants. And deer have on three occasions eaten tomato plants, tomatoes, and almost-mature watermelons. While I fight weed and grass native to the ground, other outside forces threaten the garden as well.

So it is with my heart, too. I have to be careful about what I let influence my thinking lest it worm its way into my heart. Circumstances, stress, and dealing with difficult people can threaten to undermine the growth God desires for my heart. I have to be diligent to ward off the outside spiritual predators. – 1 Peter 5:8

These are but a few lessons I have learned from my garden. I trust you will consider what God wants to grow in your heart. May God help you maintain a fertile, teachable heart. I ask Him to help you battle the threats both within and without.

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