Something about this time of year has me thinking in gardening analogies. I have always so strongly felt the changing of life seasons, in fact the book of Ecclesiastes has always resonated with me:
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1 ESV
When the cold darker days of winter start to move towards the longer sunny days of spring I feel a shift, an urge to get outside, soak up the rays of the sun and get moving again. Winter is such a dormant season for me, I feel sluggish and the need to just shut down. Winter forces me to rest, which is very clearly a gift from the Father.
This year as spring began to approach I started thinking about gardening. This is our first year in our current home. When we moved in everything was perfectly landscaped and tended to. I remember last year this time was the first spring here. I just sat back soaking it up, basking in the beauty around me. In my eyes it was all perfect and almost felt too good to be true!
Well it only took a solid 4 weeks for reality to sink in. One day I woke up and it hit me, my yard was completely overgrown with weeds. Where did all these weeds come from, and how on earth would I get rid of them!? It seemed to happen overnight, and I was so upset to see the beauty overtaken by vines that literally sucked the life out of the healthy plants. Last year I was filled with anxiety over my yard no longer being the same perfectly manicured lawn it once was. I anxiously attempted to keep up with the weeds, but usually to no avail they took over. I have since decided there is no humanly way possible I can raise 4 children, well 5 if you count the puppy, and keep the yard perfectly weeded and trimmed.
As I reflected and learned from last years mistakes, I began to see this beautiful analogy in keeping up with my garden. It made me think about Adam and Eve, how they lived in the ultimate perfect garden. They literally had it all! I’m certain they had the most amazing fresh tasty produce, and the beauty that surrounded them must have been out of this world. Not to mention walking in the garden with God himself. They had immediate direct access to their creator, it must have been so spectacular. Yet, sin entered in, and that perfection was broken.
When I look at my overgrown yard, I sometimes think about how quickly sin creeps up in my heart. Just like a garden my heart is a picture of sowing and reaping. What I sow matters. Sowing to study and know God’s word, talking to my Heavenly Father, practicing the fruits of the Spirit, it’s all important. Galatians 6 says:
“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:7-9 ESV
I remember as a new believer this verse intimidated me. The idea of sowing to the flesh and reaping corruption left me feeling anxious. How would I do the work to be “good enough” to earn and keep God’s favor? I have always struggled to want the “perfect garden”, but God offers us so much hope in Philippians 2:13
“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” NLT
It took me a year, but I finally experienced a freedom in my garden, both spiritually and physically. In my actual garden at my home I decided to spend a chunk of time each day keeping weeds at bay. It’s imperfect, but it’s a steady faithfulness that adds up. I still have overgrown areas that I can’t always get to every day, but day by day I make small bits of progress. I rely on the Lords strength to do the hard jobs like mulching which is a good preventative measure, but gets messy and exhausting.
In a parallel way, I have embraced a freedom in the garden of my heart. It has started with seeing my efforts as nothing apart from God’s power. I can’t even “weed” out the sin in my heart without the Spirit’s help. It has looked like small measures of faithfulness such as going to God’s word before scrolling through my phone, and talking to God before running to a friend for help.
You see, what it comes down to is I can do no good apart from Him. That is humbling in the best possible way. There is a freedom we can experience when we find a balance between sowing faithfully, but also embracing our limitations and seeing that God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. It is in no way saying we should just choose sin, but rather it is a freedom to acknowledge where we fall short, confess it to the Father and rely on His strength to grow us into who He already sees us as in Christ.
I pray this fills you with hope as you tend to your garden today!