I don't have a green thumb. Actually, we can't really be sure if that's even true. To test it, I would have to do some gardening...which I don't. But I know some gardeners. I know some people who love it. My mother-in-law can pick up a stick in the yard, jab it into the ground, and in a year, it'll be some flowering bush. My wife's love for gardening is, therefore, perfectly understandable.
Gardening is serious business. Just consider all the work that goes into cultivating a nice, healthy, lush garden.
You have to think about it. At some point, every single day, you need to go outside and take a look at your garden and make sure it's doing ok. Have bugs gotten into it? Has the dog walked through it or torn anything up? Are there weeds? Is there any fruit to collect? Literally every single day it needs just a little attention, so you have to remember that you even have a garden.
You have to weed it. It's amazing how much more easily weeds grow and in adverse environs than tomatoes or squash. Need weeds? Just plant squash. Need squash? Toil, sweat, water, feed, weed, etc. Those weeds will steal nutrients that your vegetables need, so you have to get rid of them. Anything growing in your garden that isn't delicious needs removing (this includes you, radishes).
You have to work the soil. Raised beds are the way to go, unless you have a big boy tiller and a sprinkler system and and no clay or rocks in your yard. Build raised beds and you can control (well, at least a little bit) the quality of the soil. No rocks. No roots. No clay. Nothing hard preventing the growth of deep roots. But you still have to check and make sure that the soil is good - nutrient rich and free of rocks and debris...and deep.
If it takes this much work to get a few good tomatoes in the summer, imagine how much work it takes to grow other fruit, like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and the rest. Cultivating the fruit of the Spirit takes work and time and energy. It means tending to our souls. It means putting ourselves in the places where God normally works (the means of grace). It means remembering and working with the soil and digging up rocks and fighting weeds.
Imagine how much more energy we give to the cares of this world than the cares of the next. We almost encourage weed growth rather than fight it off. Our lack of prayer and study for understanding God's Word is tantamount to tossing rocks into the garden of our heart and making the soil shallower.
How do I go about caring for the soil that is my heart?
- A high commitment to the gathered corporate worship of God's people. This is where we have the means of grace. This is where the Word is preached and applied.
- Family worship is an incredible tool for spending time in God's Word each and every day with your whole family sitting around the table or the couch or wherever. Read the Bible and pray at the very least; anything else is icing. (For more on family worship as preparation for corporate worship, see our previous post here.)
- Pray regularly and faithfully for the preaching of the Word at GCC and for your own receptivity to it. We all need the Spirit to work in us, not just after hearing God's Word, but before, that we might listen diligently and eagerly.
- Give careful attention to sin in your life that you might need to root up and cast out, in humble reliance upon the grace of the Holy Spirit, of course. Paul called this "putting to death the flesh" (Romans 8:13; Colossians 3:5).
How is your garden growing?