I'm no gardener. I aspire to be like my Grandma Bettye. She had a beautiful garden & even let all the girl cousins take ownership of a group of her azaleas. But I haven't managed to get the motivation to stick with it just yet. That said, even I still have to weed out the garden when it starts to look too close to jungle levels. So, I dug out my gardening gloves from where they've been hiding all winter & headed out to get to work.
And God met me right there as I knelt in the dirt.
Maybe it's because I've recently started reading Lara Casey Isaacson's book "Cultivate" & all the gardening metaphors are getting into my head & heart. I mean, I was weeding a bed of daffodils, & the wisdom I was learning in the midst of these little bulbs was so good that I just had to share.
Ugh! I strongly dislike this gardening task. It is so tedious & never-ending! But the daffodil patch in the backyard needed attention. Little did I know that God would use this dirty little task to illustrate a few spiritual truths for me.
As we clear out the weeds in our heart, the best posture to have is that of humility. You don't have to put your knees on the floor, but it might help! The big thing is that you get humble & honest before God. We look to Jesus - the ultimate example of humility. Philippians 2:8 reminds us that He "humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." Look at these promises for those who follow Christ's humble example:
"The Lord lifts up the humble; He casts the wicked to the ground" Psalm 147:6
"Toward the scorners He is scornful, but to the humble He gives favor." Proverbs 3:34
"Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you." James 4:10
There are times that the sins of our heart dress themselves up as a good thing. But when you're humbly asking God to identify those strength-zapping sins, He helps you see with His eyes. And when you see sin the way God sees it, you can't wait to get rid of it! And we ALL have sins we need to take care of. First John 1:8 says, "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." But, I'm so glad John didn't leave it like that! He goes on in verse 9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." So, dig through this tedious, labor-intensive task with joy in that promise!
When we're weeding our hearts, sometimes there are good things that just don't belong because it's stealing time or resources from the most important things. Maybe it's a hobby that takes precedence over church or Bible study or family. Maybe it's a desire for a new car or a new home that's keeping you from tithing & giving generously to others. Maybe it's time on social media that causes discontent, discord, & division in your heart. Hand it over to God. That hobby, those desires, even social media might be good in their appropriate place. But hold them loosely & always keep them in their proper order.
"Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:4
"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." Matthew 6:33
Those weeds were only my first project in that flower bed. These daffodils grow at the top of a hill where someone placed rocks as a border around them. Only the rocks have sunk down into the ground & I've run into them as I've dug around in this little patch of soil over the years. While they used to serve a purpose, they now were impeding the growth of these flowers. And the only way to fix that was to dig them up. And these are not little rocks. They are big rocks. So heavy that I had to roll some of them along the ground to move them to their new home.
What rocks are deep down under the soil of your heart? What sins are hiding down there? Or maybe there are things that served a good purpose at one time, but now they're just keeping you from growing? Ask God to show them to you & to give you the strength & courage to dig them up. He's so faithful, friend! He delights in bringing truth to light!
"Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart." Psalm 51:6
"You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence." Psalm 90:8
"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." Psalm 51:17
When we moved into this house, daffodils sprouted in random places all over the yard & still do. For little while, I thought for some crazy reason that I should replant them along the border of some of the beds. I took so much time digging and transplanting these little bulbs only to realize something. Daffodils look better when they're all together! They don't look so great on their own or lining the border of a bed. For the best impact, they need to be planted with each other in big beautiful bunches!
I'm sure you know where I'm going with this - we are better together! God designed us to be together in Gospel-centered community. (Yes, even us introverts!) In Acts 2, the early church was devoted to learning from the apostles & fellowshipping with each other. (v. 42) And they willingly sold or gave away their possessions to benefit those in need. (v. 44-5) What a beautiful design - God using human beings to come alongside each other & bring glory to Himself. What a privilege we have as the church body to share in the same Gospel work!
"Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!" Psalm 133:1
I'm not just talking about being a warm body filling a seat at church. I mean plugging in & investing in that community of believers. Don't be satisfied with staying in your social comfort zone. Go walk to the other side of the church & say "Hi!" (AAAHHH! My introvert brain is in a small panic right now, but we're breathing through it.) Find a ministry where you can pour into someone else. Pick someone that you know needs encouragement & reach out to them with a phone call, text, or a good, old-fashioned card! Join a Bible study or start one if there isn't one already. There are so many practical ways that we can live in Gospel-centered community with each other. So, let's do it & see how God allows amazing beauty to grow in the midst of that togetherness.
I hope you enjoyed this episode of "Gardening with Elaine" because it will probably be the only one! You never know when God will send you those "Aha!" moments. Sometimes, you're covered in dirt during an afternoon of gardening when you hear from your good & loving Father.
For more garden-related, Gospel-centered encouragement, check out Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life by Lara Casey. I'm only a few chapters in & she's already got me believing that I'll have a flourishing suburban farm someday. Well maybe not quite, but she DOES share so many practical truths from God's Word that are illustrated beautifully in the work of gardening.
Check out these gardening prints in my shop, too!
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