Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Tending the Garden

I love my flower garden this time of year. Everything is so fresh and new. The mulch is thick and defines each plant. The weeds are at a minimum and nothing has had time to get scraggly yet.

If only it could stay that way!!

Funny thing happens, though, with living plants - they grow. And when plants start to grow, they invariably get messy!! They grow bushy, the stems can get leggy, the flowers bud beautifully, but then they die and rot. They need care; if not every day, at least once a week. They need to be watered, they need to be trimmed, the dead rot cut off so more flowers can bloom. They need to be checked for pests and disease. They need to be tended - diligently.

I always start my garden off with the best of intentions in my heart. For the first few weeks, I'm out there almost every day, checking the progress of each plant, making sure they have enough water and that the weeds aren't taking over. I get excited at every new bud I see.

My garden is not very big, just runs along one side of my house. I have several potted plants placed in and through the perennials growing there. But in the midst of the summer when the days are hot and long and the weeds are starting to outnumber the plants, it can seem miles long! When I would rather spend the day at the beach than checking out my plants, the tasks in the garden can be many.

Every spring I tell myself I will be faithful to take care of my plants, that no matter how hot it gets or how busy I get, I will weed and water faithfully and I truly have every intention of doing just that. But if I am really honest with myself, I know I will probably fail again this year. I know my garden will probably face my neglect. I know it will be just way too hot at some point during the summer and I won't want to be out there sweating under the heat of the intense sun.

Don't I often do the same thing with the garden of my heart? I often times neglect it's care and cultivation when things get too intense.

And those that God entrusts to my care and oversight, do I tend to overlook them, too, when they start to grow and things get messy? Because I know they will - get messy, that is. And they will need my care and tending. Am I able to push past the "hot summer sun" and my own desires, to water, trim and prune, as needed?

There are not many accolades given to the average gardener. The beauty of the garden itself is enough of a reward, but we do tend to like to have others gaze upon and admire our efforts from time to time.

The time, effort, energy and sacrifice we pour into another doesn't usually get recognition either and that is as it should be. The beauty of the soul invested in is and should be enough of a reward. At the end of the day, to know that you have helped bring just one soul a little closer to the Master Gardener is definitely enough to bring peace and contentment when you lay your head on your pillow.

There is so much to learn from our Father under the guise of tending a garden. I love when He speaks to me through it and encourages me in it. The garden of a soul is so much more important than a physical garden, but there is so much we can learn while cultivating a garden.

Proper soil, depth of planting, sufficient water and sunlight, pruning, mulching, shade, patience, weeding and even, in some cases, what plants they are planted next to!!

As God entrusts souls to us for discipleship, may we be ever mindful of the tending they need, too. May we cultivate with lots of care, patience, compassion and understanding as we continue to lead them to the Master Gardener.

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