In my new home, I have a garden. If you know me at all, you know that a garden is the last thing you would expect me to have. When it comes to growing things, I excel at yeast for breads, mold, laundry in the hamper, craft projects, and to-do lists.
In my garden, I have a few small flower beds that are overgrown with weeds. Some weeds were even so pretty that I thought they were flowers. I was told otherwise.
I keep thinking "I ought to get out there and fix up the garden! Maybe plant some herbs (side note: here in the UK, the "h" isn't silent), put in some pretty flowers, maybe a berry bush or some string beans...? Doesn't sound too hard, right? Hah...you're not me. In the words of a common colloquialism here, "I canne' be bothered to do it."
The problem is, I don't have the tools to get out there and pull all the weeds. I don't have the shovels and rakes to aerate or till. I don't have gloves to keep my hands protected. I don't have a means to get to the garden center and buy the seeds and seedlings. And I certainly don't have the wherewithal to know what the heck I'm doing.
So, the weeds continue to grow. The flowers left from the previous tenant continue to cry out for attention, and the dirt sets there...getting dirtier and harder and wishing it had something in it to grow. And every day I look out my window and think "I should get out there, even for ten minutes, and pull a few weeds." and every day I look out my window and think "you know, those weeds don't look that bad. They're kind of more like wild flowers. Pretty in their own accord. I need to just let them grow and see how pretty they become."
And every day nothing happens except a continued creeping chaos of widespread weeds and dead plants. Except for the rain coming down and the sun coming up, my garden is neglected. Those weeds aren't getting smaller; in fact, they are most prolific in their short life span.
As I look out my window today, I think how amazingly quick a garden bed, so ripe for planting, growing, and feeding, can become a bed of death with weeds choking out the growth; the ground now hardened because of a lack of tending. When I finally work up the courage to step out there and start clearing weeds, tilling ground, and planting seeds, the work will be multiplied because I let it set for so long. It might even be too late in the season for me to start planting some seeds.
I'm sure you know where this is heading.
Because, greater than the garden bed outside my window is the garden that must be tended in my heart, mind, and soul. Sitting there, with soil rich in nutrients to plant it, is a garden bed asking to be tilled, turned, planted, and tended.
In that garden are sweetly smelling flowers of joy, kindness, faithfulness. Bright colored plants of service, humility, encouragement. The growth of love, peace, gentleness, long-suffering. It's where weeds of gossip, discontent, frustration, and idleness can begin to grow. It's also where they can multiply into distrust, anger, bitterness, and hurt. And where I can look out from a window and think "you know, those weeds aren't so bad. They aren't hurting anything right now. I'll just let them grow..." only to find out too late that they are choking the plants to death.
It's where I must spend my quiet time with the Lord...using the spade of the Word, the shovel of prayer, and the gloves of accountability. It's where I need to get my hands dirty, ripping out the roots of those weeds so they don't choke the growth of life. The scary part is how often I don't choose to be in my garden. And how quickly, when that happens, I find one...two...25 more weeds to turn.
This garden, where I could afford to spend more time--instead of just looking at from a window and watch as the weeds start to overtake the growth--is just waiting for me to step inside it and get to work. The greatest part? I won't be out there alone, blindly tearing up soil and plants alike, hoping for the best (much like I will be doing in my physical garden). The Gardener will be with me every step of the way. Showing me what needs to be yanked, what needs to be nurtured, and where I need to start new seeds.
I'm ready to move past stopping and smelling the flowers of others gardens...to planting the flowers that others can stop and smell...and ultimately, I pray, they will desire a garden of their own.
Some verses to meditate on: John 15:1-5, Psalm 1, Isaiah 58:9-11, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Galatians 5:16-26