Recently some landscaping was installed at my house. The shrubs and flowers significantly improved the looks of the yard. As I surveyed my yard, I could not help but be proud of the difference. Things are different now, I thought, there I can check this off my to-do list. Mission accomplished!
Plants, like all living things, require certain things. They have to be watered and tended, and the area around them needs to be cultivated. Instead of enjoying a job well done, it had morphed into a career that seems to keep growing and expanding. Lessons I learned in the flower garden this week:
- The beginning is not the end. Life is more than a series of tasks to complete. Life is to be lived from start to finish. Good beginnings are lovely, but great endings are essential as well. Between the beginning and the end is a whole lot of life and frankly quite a bit of work. You have to have a start when you become a Christ-follower. The opening is not the end of it by any stretch. You begin, and then you continue growing and depending on Him daily. There will be progress and days of nearly staring over. The secret is to keep going and keep growing.
- Anything living needs assistance. Immediately upon the planting of the trees, shrubs, and flowers, we entered into an arid period. It did not rain for many days, and the temperature was in the 90-degree range for a week and a half. It would have been easy to say well the plants have all they need. They are in the soil, and nature will provide their needs. When plants are transplanted, they are in a very vulnerable period; they need outside intervention to assist them as they seek to take root in a new environment. For this reason, my yard became a maze of hoses, sprinklers, and water cans. I began a regiment of watering my garden. Just like the plants in my garden, I, too, need a lot of assistance. A self-made person is a mighty small sight to behold! Help has come to be from family, pastors, friends, teachers, and many more. We all stand on the shoulders of those who have helped us to get to where we are in life. Community is vital for growth. Much growth has come in my life as a believer through the investment of others. I would have died on the vine without their assistance.
- The start is just that a start. The plants were placed in the ground with great care, and they looked outstanding. Starting is only part of the equation, not the whole matter. I was responsible not only to see that they were planted correctly, but that they were nurtured and given every opportunity to succeed. Often as a pastor, I seemed more focussed on the people starting with Christ and did not emphasize as I should have the journey and the need to grow. Even the sanctified most progress and mature.
- Weeds can grow anywhere! I mean anywhere! Why is that you have to water and fertilize a lawn to have a fighting chance that it will grow, and yet weeds seem to be able to grow through concrete? I just witnessed it again yesterday. My grass is distressed because of the heatwave, yet beautiful blades of grass have sprung near my new plants and have pushed their way through seven inches of mulch! In the Bible, weeds are always a symbol of neglect. Weeds that have sprouted in my spiritual garden have usually come from negligence as well. For this is the reason, we seek to grow in our relationship with the Lord. Prayer and Bible reading are not just items to be checked off our to-do list. They are gardening tools, useful for cultivating and caring for the soil of my faith.
How are things in your garden today?