I have a garden this year.
I love saying that. It feels so…earthy. So…natural. So…not me.
You see, I’m not really a gardener.
I want to be. I try to be. But I get a bit lost when plants don’t just…grow. I put the seeds in the ground, so now they should do their thing. Right? But when bugs invade or plants start dying, I don’t always put up a fight.
This year, however, I’m determined. I’m going to figure this cultivating thing out.
Last night I spent some time working in my garden – pulling weeds, pruning rogue cucumber plants, transplanting mint to improve its chance for survival. It was sweaty, prickly work. But it felt so good.
And then I saw it – a bunch of tiny green tomatoes growing in the middle of the tomato cage. I was so excited to see the plant I’ve been tending start to bear fruit.
It’s small, so far from ripe. But it’s fruit, nonetheless. It’s progress, the promise of more to come. And it thrills me.
As I looked at those itty bitty tomatoes, it struck me that maybe God feels a similar joy over us. When He sees us growing, does His heart burst with happiness?
Sometimes I get so impatient with myself.
Surely I should be producing lots of mature fruit by now. I’ve known Jesus for so long, why am I not bursting with the fruit of His Spirit? Why, oh why, do I struggle with the same old sins? Why am I not more grown up in my faith? Why do I doubt? Why do I get irritable or angry with those I love?
Do you ever feel that way? Ashamed of yourself for not being…better? More productive? More mature? Closer to perfect?
And like the scorching sun on a mid-summer day, condemnation threatens to wither the fruit that’s growing, be it ever-so-slowly, in our lives.
I don’t think God looks at us that way. In fact, for those with faith in His Son, He declared us free from condemnation (Romans 8:1).
Like a patient gardener rejoicing over not-yet-ripe fruit, I believe God is okay with the process. More than okay, I think He’s excited to see us growing, responding to His master touch.
No gardener expects ripe fruit the same day the seeds are planted. There’s a whole season of tending yet to be done.
In the garden of our hearts, our God is all about the process. Because, unlike me with my tomato plants, there’s a relationship being cultivated. In the tending – the daily watering, the pruning and pulling of weeds – we get to know the Gardener.
What do you think? How does the Gardener tend the soil of your soul? What are you learning about Him in the process? Please comment below! Let’s get to know Him better together!