As I write this blog, I'm enjoying the fruits of my labor from my garden this year as well as sharing the abundance. I'm enjoying the warm sun and peaceful nights. The environment and creation around me, teaches me something daily. Let me take you on a journey through the garden of your heart.
It all started in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were able to rule and reign over the earth and animals with God as well as partake in the beautiful plants and gardens he had made. I love how Robin Meadows describes it in one of her devotionals, "It all began in a garden—a luxurious acreage abounding with magnificent plants, trees, and flowers. Eden. Imagine being there with the intoxicating fragrances of orchids, roses, and gardenias. Brilliantly colored leaves and blossoms surround you. Exotic fruits and vegetables are your nourishment, always ripe and ready to eat, washed by the mist of a tumbling waterfall. Sweet birdsong mingles with the golden warmth from the Father’s love. Absent of disease, destruction, or disappointment, this was the place of perfection. Paradise! A place our hearts still long for and desire."
I personally love being outside in the warm sun, smelling beautiful fragrances, and watching the earth and plants come alive. It's so personal to me because as God created it all, it seems so simple, but it really is significant. The garden of Eden was God's first dwelling place. I can't imagine how amazing and how easy it would have been to care for and at the same time always enjoying endless harvests.
Now i'll come back to reality. Our gardens now, we toil, we sweat, we lose crops, the insects and pests take our food we worked so hard for, and we deal with those weeds. Now if you are curious about not having to do so much hard work and work smarter, not harder, take a look at my other 'Back To Eden' gardening blog. Here, I will be focusing on the parallels in our life with growing a garden and the inspiration from other gardeners.
Just like we have to prepare our hearts for different situations, we have to prepare our gardens every year. Some people may till, weed, rake, cover, or disc their gardens. In different ways, this will reveal or suppress weeds from growing and taking root. It loosens the soil or aerates it as in covering the soil. Before we can do any planting and even think about harvesting, we have to put in the work of preparation. The prepping and tilling of our hearts reveals poor attitudes, sin, negativity, hate, self-centeredness, and more. As we loosen up the soil of the garden of our heart, we have a willingness to see ourselves as God sees us. Many times we go through something hard. The death of a loved one, a lost job, a broken relationship, a health issue, or anything that just mangles our heart. When we find ourselves in the midst of this, we can either let God mold us and shape us in that season, or we can close up and harden our hearts. If we harden our hearts we can't grow anything. God never wastes anything and he will prepare us for greater things to come.
" I said, ‘Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you."
After preparation we need seeds. You experience excitement when you pick out seeds for your garden and maybe even try a new variety. The seed starting indoors or even the transplanting is exciting to know your garden is starting to grow. Seeds however, are not pretty. They aren't super exciting because you don't see what they will turn into yet. You have to wait. Before seeds grow, they have to first die. That may surprise you, but it's the only way they become more. When you put that seed into the soil it swells and cracks open and loses that protective outer shell. It gives up it's seed identity to become a sprout, something that will have greater value. Eventually it sends out root and before you know it you see that green lush growth! Just like a seed has a growth cycle, we do to.
Luke 9:23-25, "Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed?
That transformation from death to life and changing of our identity constantly changes in our life. In life we sometimes try to hold onto that outer shell, preventing ourselves from sprouting into the person God wants us to become. We have an independent heart and it's hard for us to let it go into the hands of the Master Gardener. He truly wants to care for our heart. This dying in us happens when we daily give up our frustrations, stress, problems, and what we want for ourself or families. If we put our trust in God, he will take our heart and life and turn it into something better then we ever could imagine. When we surrender to him, he takes our life and grows it into what will reflect his glory. Never fear giving your life to him, in the breaking of life, he will help us produce rich fruit in our lives.
Mark 4:30-32 Jesus said, “How can I describe the Kingdom of God? What story should I use to illustrate it? It is like a mustard seed planted in the ground. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of all garden plants; it grows long branches, and birds can make nests in its shade.”
After those seeds are planted, water is greatly needed. You could hope and pray all you want for those seeds to sprout and grow, but you won't see them germinate without water. No matter where you live and what you are planting, watering will look different for everyone. Some need to water more, some less. But one thing remains the same. Plants and seeds need water. Our spirit needs water too. It takes time and intention. Seeds and full grown plants need water. We need daily consistent watering. Daily connection with God. Not just here and there or once in a while. If we loose connection, we may suffer a drought spiritually. When we suffer a drought and don't have that intention, we can find ourselves reaching for anything that may quench our thirsty soul. Spending time in prayer, God's word, and connection in other ways with him is our "water" in the garden of our heart.
John 4:13-14, Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”
Jeremiah 17:7-8, “But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat
or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,
and they never stop producing fruit.
With water we also need light. It's vital for plants to grow. It's the source of energy that creates photo synthesis and chlorophyll deep within the cells. Without proper light, the plant becomes weak, growing a thin stalk, small leaves, and shallow roots. Always searching for light, it will never stand straight or tall, or even have deep roots which prevent it from ever putting on proper fruit. In the same way in our hearts, without God's word and relationship with him, our soul remains immature. Our roots will be shallow leaving us unstable when we encounter harsh circumstances of life. Renew and make strong your relationship with him.
Psalm 119:105, "Your word is a lamp to guide my feet
and a light for my path."
Ephesians 4:8-9, "For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true."
Weeds & Pests
As the seeds start popping up in your garden, you have to be able to distinguish which are weeds and which are your plants. We have to study what the true flower or plant is. Many weeds can come up that look just like the plant you planted or the seed your sowed. It can be very deceiving if you don't know the differences. The earlier you recognize and remove the weeds, the easier and healthier your garden is. This holds true in our hearts as well. The more you press in and spend time in God's word, we will be able to distinguish between what is false or sinful and what is good. Knowing and believing the truth will prevent the growth of deception and lies which consume our heart and mind.
Hebrews 6:7-8, " When the ground soaks up the falling rain and bears a good crop for the farmer, it has God's blessing. But if a field bears thorns and thistles, it is useless. The farmer will soon condemn that field and burn it."
Just as weeds affect how our plants grow and try to shade them out from the light, pests come and try to eat our growth. Insects and animals will come and bite the lush leaves, dig up roots, and carry off our produce. Sometimes they even blend in and we don't realize it. Green snakes can look like pole beans, some bugs hide in blossoms and ruin the fruit before it's even ready. We always have to be alert and be ready. Sometimes we need tools or gloves to remove these pests or insects! To prevent us from being harmed we have to glove up so we don't hurt our hands, have traps to prevent animal invaders, or put deterrents out for harmful bugs. Just like a worm comes to devour our beautiful vegetables, the enemy tries to bring defeat and discouragement in our heart. Sometimes there are fears, temptations, circumstances, or thoughts that try to trap us. They try to ruin our hopes and dreams. The enemy uses the things and people even around us to deceive us and hurt us. We let the negative feelings and thoughts sink it. Remember, satan only holds the power we give him! Put on the armor of God, know truth, have peace, have faith, be in God's word, have a relationship with him, work on yourself daily, and be in prayer. Think about what you let into the garden of your heart and mind. Trap and pull the weeds of fear, hopelessness, and anger before they take root. Then we can powerfully continue to grow and continue on the path he has for us without hesitation.
Luke 10:19, "Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you."
1 Peter 5:8-9, "Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are."
Nothing is wasted: Compost
Like me, you may keep a compost pile. Instead of throwing away kitchen scraps, I can throw it in my compost bin in my garden. As it transforms over time, it turns into a rich amendment for the soil. Our pile of disappointments, regrets, wrong choices, bad decisions, guilt, and shame, Jesus took upon himself! Through his resurrection he offers us an amazing transformation from death to a "rich and fruitful" life. Remember, you are not the junk of your past or heap of your problems. You can be transformed and made new to be used for God's glory. What was used to crush you, God can use for good. What pain you endured, God will justify and return back to you in his perfect timing.
2 Corinthians 3:18, "So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord-who is the spirit-makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.
Harvest & Delight
Time has finally come. You have waited, watered, nourished, weeded, and protected your garden and now it has produced! What a delight it is to enjoy your garden produce and share the abundance with others. To taste the rich flavors and enjoy the sweet smells. The gathering of rewards from all the weeks and months or years has finally come! The harvest comes much later than the planting. Awaiting a harvest takes great patience and endurance. The seed you planted will bear good fruit, the timeline just may not match your own expectations. In our lives, we want to see the evidence of our efforts. Whether it be in a marriage, a friendship, in a business, school, etc. Sometimes it seems slow in coming and we get lost in the waiting. We must remember the harvest comes later than the planting. Things are always growing and changing even when we don't see it. We have to enjoy or notice the small changes that happen. It takes extended time in prayer and relying on him, not on our own effort. Before we know it, the harvest is here.
Galatians 6:9, "So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up."
The delight is part of the harvest. C.S Lewis said, "the delight is incomplete till is it expressed. Praise is the finishing touch-the natural response to the joy we're experiencing, whether in lovely flowers or in the marvelous grace of Jesus." As we delight in the things God gives us, he delights in us, his creation. This is where worship and praise comes in. We take delight in him when we give thanks. The true value of our worship is measured in what we are willing to offer. Especially in response in his love for us. Our time, effort, humility, and surrendering. Just as you praise and delight in your harvest, delight in the Lord. He rewards his children!
"In gardening and in life, commitment, intentionality, and effort are necessary in order to experience healthy growth. Left on their own without constant care, each will turn back to their original nature. But when given plenty of light, water, and attention you can be certain of a beautiful outcome and a harvest rich enough to share with others."