I love the colors of summer. The bright pinks, hues of blue and vivid reds—the varying shades of green in the trees and the grasses. My favorite season though, is Fall. But right now I am focused on Summer….since we are in the “heat” of it!
Several years ago while digging in a flower bed, the Lord taught me some lessons. I would like to share them with you.
When I first started thinking of my flowerbed, I knew it needed an anchor. Something substantial that it could rest against. Something that would help tie the flowerbed and the house together. We decided on a patio.
My husband and I worked for two days laying a solid brick patio. The bricks were very old and completely solid. They were a variety of colors, from terra-cotta colored to reds and beige. They blended well. We arranged them in a in a criss-cross design. He poured in the sand and mortar mixture to set them, we swept it in with a broom and he hosed it down and we stood back and admired the end result.
The man of the house decided that I could do the planning of the flowerbed. He would be on standby to dig the larger holes, but for the most part, it was my baby. As I began planning my flower bed, I would lie in bed at night and visualize what it might look like complete. I had in my mind the type of flowers I wanted. I started small. I laid out my design with left over patio bricks. I rearranged them to suit my plan. I wanted something unusual. Something that would please the eye and invite you to “sit for a while”.
I planned my whole flowerbed around the design of the patio. I used the left over bricks for a border. I carefully chose my flowers according to color, size and “drawability”….no that’s not a word, but I wanted to draw butterflies. After several afternoons spent digging, weeding, planting, watering and “rearranging”, it was finished. It was so small, the plants so young and tender. They needed constant attention. I watched like a hawk for weeds and dared any animal to come near my sweet little new plants.
As the seasons changed, my little plants changed too. So did I. Many things were taking place in my life. Every day that I spent working in my flowerbed, God was using that time to “weed out things in my heart and life”. I had kind of a “two for one” deal! As the years passed, my flowers were no longer small.
During a particular tough summer for me, I spent less time in my little garden and more time worrying and fretting over some particularly difficult circumstances in my life. One day I arrived home and realized I was living in a jungle! The crepe myrtle bush had turned into a tree and was “creeping” to my door. My lantana had grown so large; it was now taller than I was in places! My once cute little garden was now out of control. So were the problems in my life.
We can all find a point in time in each of our lives where we realize our little plants have become bigger than we have. Each passing season brings change. Some changes we welcome with open arms, some we try to run from. Nevertheless, change is inevitable.
So what do we do with these inevitable, often uninvited changes? We determine to rise early, grab our sturdy work gloves, get out the hedge clippers, the shovel, the wheelbarrow, the hoe and rake and get to work! It will be a hot sweaty job, but I need to sweat sometimes. We all do. It washes out the impurities in our bodies (lives). It will take a lot of hard work, a lot of sweat, cutting, trimming, raking and possibly, even the moving of some plants (that I now realized were planted in the wrong place), but the end result (when you are too pooped to see straight), is well worth all the efforts.
Sometimes the processes God takes us through are painful as well. Sometimes we have to be pruned, trimmed, even cut way back to be what we should be. Sometimes, we even have to be moved. I did that with some of my plants. We even did that with a few trees. They just weren’t flourishing where they were placed originally. It was a scary process. I am not a horticulturist. I had no clue if they would survive if moved. I worried over the root system. The only thing I knew about gardening, I had learned while watching my mother and grandmothers and HGTV! You may think this is silly, but I “prayed” over my plants.
Believe it or not, the Lord answered my prayers. I knew if anyone knew anything about gardening….He did. After all……He planted the first garden!
He taught me much during those seasons of my life in gardening and living. Somethings in my life needed to be pruned out. There were things that were keeping me from progressing in my faith. Things that were hindering my walk with the Father.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterward. Now he is seated in the place of highest honor beside God’s throne in heaven. Think about all he endured when sinful people did such terrible things to him, so that you don’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin. And have you entirely forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you, his children? He said, “My child, don’t ignore it when the Lord disciplines you, and don’t be discouraged when he corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes those he accepts as his children.” As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who was never disciplined? If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children after all. Since we respect our earthly fathers who disciplined us, should we not all the more cheerfully submit to the discipline of our heavenly Father and live forever? For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always right and good for us because it means we will share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening-it is painful! But afterward there will be a quiet harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. So take a new grip with your tired hands and stand firm on your shaky legs. Mark out a straight path for your feet. Then those who follow you, though they are weak and lame, will not stumble and fall but will become strong. Try to live in peace with everyone, and seek to live a clean and holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.
I love that verse I underlined “So take a new grip with your tired hands and stand firm on your shaky legs.” Hebrews 12:12 NLT
Isn’t that just how we feel when we’ve been on our knees in the garden digging and pulling weeds for hours? Tired hands and shaky legs. He (the ultimate Gardener) will strengthen our hands, feet and yes our backs too!
How awesome it is to serve God! How incredible He is to attend our every need! Thank you Lord for caring about our lives, even our gardens.
(This post was originally posted July 29, 2007—but it ties in with my thought lines for this week—and my Internet Cafe` post that comes out July 29, 2008!) Hope you don’t mind the re-run!
Have a blessed day!