Some people are amazing with gardens. They see potential in an overgrown mass of foliage and a tangle of bush weeds. Give them a few tools and a little time and it won’t be long before pools flow amidst what were barren rocks, roses bloom, and fruit trees spread their branches over lawns fringed with every color in the rainbow. Same ground below and sky above but transformed by the vision and labor of the one who cares for it.
Jesus spoke about his Father being a gardener and he saw himself as a vine in his Father’s garden. He was reliant upon his Father to sustain him and to nurture the life that flowed through him. Then he described those who followed him as branches attached to the vine (Jesus) in the same garden – that could be you and me. They are equally cared for and nurtured in order that from the vine of Jesus and through the branches fruit would form and grow to maturity.
It’s another metaphor for life and purpose. Every seed planted contains a particular flower or fruit that breaks into bloom and beauty after planting, watering, and patient gardening. Included in the process is weeding, pruning, and fertilizing in order that everything stored in that tiny seed will be maximized and released.
I was thinking about this earlier today because it’s easy to become discouraged or overwhelmed. God showed me a wildly overgrown garden where all that was visible were the wild vines and weeds that so often resemble the clutter and chaos of someone’s life. “Look for the shoots of the flowers and fruit trees underneath,” he said. “Nurture the life that perhaps is not clearly visible yet and give them a vision for a landscape and garden they can’t see or believe for themselves. Keep describing what you see for them and watch the new life begin to break through the jungle.”
Such a revelation has not come easily or quickly for me. Too often the weeds and the negatives have captivated my attention and born the brunt of my comments and complaining. I’ve hacked at the thorn bushes and thought that once they are cleared then we will be able to plant a garden. The problem usually is that because the cutting and clearing has taken so much energy I’ve lost sight of the ultimate vision. God reminded me that he approaches gardening quite differently. The rain falls on the weeds and the wheat or flowers (Matthew 13:39) until the harvest. He allows the good to grow in the midst of the nuisance, primarily because in the early stages of growth the weeds and ‘good plants’ can look very similar. As they mature over time their true nature and identity is revealed.
It’s an encouraging reminder to me about where to focus and who to trust with the landscaping and development of my life as well as the lives of those around me. Patience and consistency is required while resisting the urge to jump to conclusions or make hasty judgements; all the while focusing on the bigger picture and the ultimate vision, and trusting the head gardener with the management of the process. In the midst of this are seasons for pruning, rest, fruitfulness, and new beginnings.
There’s a great deal going on in any garden and the cycle of life and death, blooming and pruning never ends. Often the most beautiful gardens are not well manicured or perfect. Wherever you happen to be today, stand in the rain of God’s provision and trust him, be patiently soaked in his love and believe for what is not yet visible in yourself and those among whom you’re planted :-).