In the Beginning, the Garden
According to Genesis, life on earth started in a garden. The Bible is filled with references to gardens and gardening or farming. Psalm 1 begins with a tree planted by the water, which yields its fruit in season. Solomon talks about the seasons of life. Most of the parables of Jesus refer to growing things. Jesus prayed before his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane. Then in John 19:41 we are told the place of crucifixion on the cross, where Jesus was nailed to “a tree”, was near a garden. On Easter morning the two women mistook the resurrected Savior for the gardener.
Spiritual Lessons from the Garden
Biblical metaphors reference planting and harvesting, seeds and soil, vines and plants, fruitfulness and barrenness. All of these carried meaningful and profound truths easily understood by people whose day-to-day relationship with growing things was fundamental to their existence. Even though many of us may be city-slickers today, most of us still have some connection to the garden and the nature beyond our doorsteps. And those same truths are easily grasped today. There are many lessons to be learned from the cycle of life in a garden or gardening on a farm.
Personal Truths I’ve Learned from Gardening
- You must sow if you want to harvest.
- You reap what you sow.
- The life is in the seed. You can create the right conditions for growth, but you cannot guarantee that it will sprout or that growth will occur.
- There is a time for planting and a time for harvest.
- There are seasons of life.
- A plant always reaches for the light.
- Roots sunk deep can sustain the plant through times of drought.
- There are weeds and pests that seek to use the plant for their own ends and may destroy it in the process if we are not diligent in our care.
- That which is left behind, which dies can be used again as nourishing soil for new growth.
- A gardener cares for his plants and at times cuts off and prunes so that maximum fruitfulness can take place.
- Sometimes we can get so caught up in the tending of the plants that we fail to smell, taste, and enjoy the fruits of our labors.
- From a single seed can spring forth and abundance.
- You sometimes you have to let some of the fields rest (lie fallow) so that that they can be more fruitful later.
Spiritual Lessons from Jesus Related to Gardening
- Jesus knew how to prepare soil for planting – Luke 14:35
- Jesus understood that location and the type of soil was important – Matthew 13:8
- Jesus understood that a seed must be planted and die before new life can come forth from it – John 12:24
- Jesus understood that the farm was often a group effort and that different people had different roles - John 4:38
- Jesus knew that the life was in the vine – John 15: 1-4
- Jesus knew that the plant must be pruned to become more fruitful – John 15:1-4
- Jesus knew that some plants might produce fruit a little slower and sometimes you had to wait before the harvest – Luke 13:6-9
- Jesus knew that some plants, regardless of how long you waited would never produce fruit and were best removed to make way for others – Matthew 21:18-19
- Jesus knew that even the smallest of seeds, with proper care can become a great canopy to shelter others through the storms of life – Matthew 13:31–32
- Jesus knew that sometimes we need to simply sit back and enjoy the time God has given us, rather than worry and toil our life away – Matthew 6:27-30
Applying Spiritual Lessons from Gardening
Seeds of truth sprout in our hearts, are nourished and grow in maturity and fruitfulness. Like the vine, we stretch ourselves toward the light and bask in the warmth of the sun. We sink our roots deep in the Word and draw vital sustenance as branches attached to the vine and thus producing abundant fruit. There are times for planting and times for harvest, times of quick growth and times of strengthening, times of lush active life and times of dormancy and waiting, times of morning glories and night fragrances. The cycle of the harvest is the cycle of life – the rhythm of God’s timing and God’s care. It is God’s timing and all our busyness and frantic activity will not hasten the ripening of the fruit or produce the sweet taste of the harvest. We can create, and must create, the conditions and make sure all the right things are in place, but only God can make us grow and then make us fruitful. There will be storms and blights and famine, but the same storms bring life nourishing water. The blights and the famines make the times of abundant harvest so much more delightful. Then, there are those delightful times, when the Spirit flows from the source into all the areas of our life and fruit is produced in ever increasing measure.
Spiritual growth takes time. Spiritual maturity is not instant. It’s a slow gradual process of growth that will continue all your years. There are no shortcuts. And even if there is life and growth, fruitfulness is not guaranteed. Fruit appears in season when the conditions are right. When you try to ripen fruit quickly it loses it flavor. The same is true with us.
And for each of us there is some area of our life where you are not yielding all you could, places where you might prefer the rocks and be content to tolerate the thorns. Tilling the soil in our hearts, pulling the weeds, breaking of the tough ground can be hard work. But God is the divine Garner and wants to produce a life of joyful harvest in you if you will simply allow Him into the garden of your life. Invite Him in. There is work to be done, but there will also be times to taste and see that the Lord is good. – time to enjoy the harvest of His work in your life.
Spiritual Gardening 101
Need a little help in getting started with spiritual gardening? Need a manual on spiritual gardening? Check out the many lessons on the website Creative Youth Ideas about spiritual growth and spiritual fruit. There is also a youth camp / youth Bible study series shown below.
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“Fruit of the Spirit”?
Live the Fruitful, Abundant Life Jesus Promised. This Bible Study and Camp Curriculum covers, in 7 1-hour sessions, what it takes to grow spiritually in Christ, the goal of which is to be fruitful in our Christian walk – to live a life worthy of God’s calling.
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