Sunday, April 20, 2014

Garden Soil - Holy Ground

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“There is grace for every garden you’re in…” 
– Pastor Pat Willard

When I think about gardening, I think of the only good gardens I’ve been a part of. I love living in Colorado, but the effort to grow plants in my yard is too great. I might as well toss my money in the trash if I’m pouring it into my yard. But, as a girl growing up on a farm in northeastern Ohio, I shared in the efforts it took to plant, tend and harvest our bountiful gardens. It’s a whole lot easier to grow a garden with good soil! It will always entail hard work, but it’s a labor of love when you get the results you want and can enjoy the fruits of your labors.

In the Word of God there are plenty of references to gardening. One parable, often referred to as the parable of the sower, might more accurately be called the parable of the soils, as our pastor has pointed out. Good seeds are planted each time; the difference in the harvest is because of the soil:

“And [Jesus] spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the wayside, and the fowls came and devoured them up: Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.” – Matthew 13:3-9 (KJV)

God’s Word is that good seed. Some seeds are too old to sprout, but God’s Word is eternal, it never returns void. It’s never a faulty seed planted into the soil of our hearts, if it’s the seed of the Word of God. Yet, three soil conditions are mentioned in the parable that present problems for the garden. [Note: I don’t see them as problems for the Gardener.]

Unlike the sandy soil here in my Colorado backyard, I have choices to make every day. I choose to receive the Word of God with joy, I choose to cultivate the Word of God in my life. I can also choose to allow the seed that’s been planted in my heart to become overwhelmed with the daily concerns of my life; the worries that creep in, like thorny weeds that can overcome a garden, crowding out the crops I planted. I can allow them to steal my attention from my Creator, seeing them as bigger or more influential in my life than my Savior. Do we “tell God how big our problems are, or do we tell our problems how big a God we serve”?

Daily, I choose whether or not to forgive those who bring offenses into my life; those who wound me deeply or simply cut me off in traffic. Left unattended, unforgiveness shows up like rocks in the fine soil of my heart. Once I let bitterness creep into my life, I become hardened, like clay baked in the summer sun. Sometimes when those offenses show up, God can use forgiveness I choose to give as a hoe or a rotor-tiller to break up the hardening that had been taking place.

The condition of the garden of my heart is very dependent on me; yes, it will take time and effort. Often, that time and those efforts are spent on those we love – investments that can come back to bless us many-fold, or seem to leave us abandoned and lonely. But, God sees it all, whether we see the harvest on this side of glory or not. No tending to our garden goes wasted.

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YET…I look around and see seeds produce where, realistically, they shouldn’t. Here in Colorado I repeatedly see trees growing from crevices between rocks in the mountains. It makes me ponder. Was it a stubborn seed? No one comes to water it or to take care of any weeds that try to force it out. With no room for even pebbles, this isn’t rocky soil, it’s shallow dirt, blown and settled between huge pieces of rock! How does this tree grow? Where does it take root and how does it glean it’s nourishment? (You know if I planted that seed there, it wouldn’t grow at all!) My parallel point to ponder goes to the one, the unlikely soul we see cursing God on a daily basis. Yes, the Word of God can grow there, too.

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