THE GARDEN

This morning I’m a little sore. All yesterday afternoon, I worked in The Garden. Not the vegatable garden, but a new Flower Garden. Around here, we love all kinds of flowers. Debbie had been wanting one in a particular spot of our yard between and around 2 forsythias. So, I worked on preparing it. Can’t really plant any flowers just yet. Though it’s Spring, in Alabama, you never know what kind of weather we will have in March. Heat is on in the morning, and the a/c in the afternoon.

In order to have this flower garden I needed to till up the ground and get rid of the grass. It’s too small for my tractor, so I had to use the good old fashioned tiller, garden rake, wheel barrow, shovel, and a lot of scooping up and bending over. Thus the sore muscles and aching bones this morning. And I’m excited for what lies ahead. Sure, we can’t eat what will grow there–but we can still enjoy them. And not just us, but others who notice it as they travel down Alabama Highway 18. And–have you ever heard the expression, “Take time to smell the roses.”? What’s the purpose of my musings about a flower garden? Glad you asked!

We live in a time when the simple things of life are both ignored and neglected. So many times we are obsessed with what we want, what we think we need, that we fail to enjoy life. And agendas seem to be drive by what’s next. Sometimes what we need most of all is to stop and take it all in. Perhaps this is why David wrote in Psalm 23 this verse: “He lets me rest in green meadows; He leads me beside peaceful streams.” It is so important for our emotional, mental, relational, and physical health and well-being that we stop and take in the beauty that does exist in this world. Yes, feed the belly–but also make sure you feed your heart and mind with the beauty of God. Yes, there is beauty to be seen in this broken world, and you never know where it will be. I know some of it will be seen along Alabama Highway 18. Right now in our newest flower garden there’s only brown dirt and a couple of forsythias, but more is coming.

Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him!

BOYS AND THEIR TOYS!

My latest toy!

This is the picture of my latest “toy”. You know what they say, “As men grow older, the price of their toys go up dramatically!” But before you worry that Debbie has thrown me into the proverbial dog house–again–she gave me permission to buy it. I’ve done some marginal gardening–and perhaps it’s the death of my Dad–who was a master gardener–has stirred up something in my ancestral DNA. Dad grew up in a family of share-croppers. And their personal garden was often the difference between a full and empty belly. But I think there was more to his gardening.

Daddy loved to watch things grow. When he decided to move he bought 2 lots. One for the new home and the other for the garden. He would work his 8 hour shift at the plant, then come home to work the garden. He raised vegetables not only for us, but for anyone and everyone. And that’s now my burning desire. But I admit I’m getting too old for a garden hoe and rake. Oh, I can do it–but the price after the fact–well, let’s just say age has it’s own form of inflation.

This Kubota L185 is a two-cylinder diesel that produces an amazing 17 horsepower. No, it’s not like those towering John Deere green tractors. But for my dream and goal, it’s absolutely perfect. But to garden, I needed a few implements–which adds an additional cost because I needed more toys. I am now the proud owner of those implements. And the best news of all–I’m still NOT in the doghouse. When we get home from this sabbatical, I will begin doing the things necessary to produce our garden.

“What things?”, you ask. I need to turn the soil over, loosening the soil and putting old vegetation under the ground to help enrich the soil. Then I need to take the disk and smooth it out–lay out the rows–and start putting out the plants and seeds. I learned from Dad that you don’t plant everything at the same time. Each vegetable has it’s own growing season. Plant too early, it won’t produce. Plant too late, it won’t produce. I see this newest desire and goal as my way to remember everything Dad tried to teach me–not only about making a garden–but about making life. And just like him, I want to have some to share with others.

What does all of this have to do with the Kingdom Life? What’s the analogy and lessons? Well, let me see if I can connect the dots. First, there’s the tractor. Now, I could have tired to prepare the dirt–but it would be much too difficult and take too much time. The Kubota will use it’s energy to do it for me. And just as we can’t clean up ourselves–we need the power and energy of the Holy Spirit to do it for us. Second, is the turning plow. To prepare soil for a garden, you need to get deep. The Holy Spirit gets to the deepest parts of our minds, hearts, and lives. Third is the disking. Our life needs to be refined and “smoothed out” in order for the seed of God’s word to grow and take root in us. Fourth is the cultivator. Just as the cultivator helps me to lay out the rows for the different vegetables, we need The Holy Spirit to bring order into our lives. And fifth there’s the seeds planted at different times. The Word of God are the seeds we need to grow up into God’s image. But we need different seeds at different times in our life journey. All of those seeds come from The Bible–and if we follow the lead of the Holy Spirit, they will come to us at the right time.

Finally there is the harvest. Just as I want more than enough vegetables to share, God wants more than enough in us to share. When we keep in everything that God has done for us and to us–we miss the whole point of discipleship. But God gives us what we need in order to grow and mature as followers of Jesus. But wait, there’s more I almost forgot.

The Weeds! To produce the most, gardens need to be weeded out regularly. Now, early on I will use the cultivator, making the task easy. But eventually the crops will grow too tall to us the cultivator. Then I have to rely on manual labor. But I know that hard work will result in great rewards. And the Kingdom Lesson for all of us is that we need to watch out for the spiritual weeds that will get in the way of the harvest. And sometimes it takes a lot of effort on our part–yet remembering that we rely on the power and strength of the Holy Spirit. Now, if you will excuse me, I need to rest up a while. My work is cut out for me–but I’ve got everything I need–no, not my little Kubota–but enormous Holy Spirit!