In my four short years of vegetable gardening experience, I’ve learned that cultivating good soil is essential to getting fruitful plants. Planting seeds and young plants in poor soil leads to disappointing results. That’s why this afternoon I was out for a second round of digging manure into the garden, turning the soil over, and trying to distribute the good stuff to the very edges so that the whole plot is ready for sowing and planting. I’m amazed that even four years on I’m still finding large stones to remove from the earth along with the weeds that spring up very quickly once the snow has gone.
It’s not my favourite job, but once I’m into it, it is quite satisfying. I like the exciting parts of growing vegetables – planting the seeds, seeing the new shoots come up, harvesting the fruits. There’s a lot of work to be done on the way though. Preparing the soil is just the start, after the planting is the watering, fertilizing, continual weeding and checking for harmful bugs and disease.
As I dug this afternoon, pondering life, I thought about God’s way of turning the soil over in my own heart. Discipline. Building character. Digging some good stuff in and rooting some bad stuff out. It’s uncomfortable. He is not afraid to go right to the very corners and edges of the heart to put things right. It is one of the ways I know that He is my Heavenly Father (Hebrews 12:7).
When I hit times like that I’m impatient though, I get frustrated, I want to get to the exciting part. I’ll do anything for you God, just show me what you want me to do and I’ll do it. He is in no rush to get me moving anywhere until He has done the ground work with my heart. Just like gardens and plants, everything has its season. If God chooses to take time to deal with a few things, the best thing I can do is cooperate, dealing with the stuff He’s pinpointing, praying and reading the Word; trusting him to grow things in His time rather than pushing things on in my own strength and ending up with something that is unsustainable and weak. He’s not going to prepare a good bit of soil and then not plant anything in it – he’s the ultimate gardener.
It’s love of gardening that makes me do the laborious ground work in order to make the most of the growing season. God’s great grace and love drives him to deal with the deepest issues in our hearts, and he doesn’t stop with the initial digging. He’s there through the whole process, pouring out the thirst-quenching water of the Holy Spirit on us to enable our formerly unfruitful and weed-filled lives to become a thriving and fruitful garden…for His glory.