It all started long ago in a beautiful garden that God created (Genesis1-3). The place was so amazing that God made people to enjoy being with him in the garden. Unfortunately, when the people stopped trusting God, the result was thorns and thistles and hard work to grow food. God wanted to restore his people to a land flowing with great abundance (Exodus 3:8), but they kept messing up and giving their allegiance to worthless gods. When Jesus appeared to show them God’s love in human skin, he often went into his favorite garden to connect with God in Heaven (Luke 21:37; 22:39). When those who love God are again dwelling with God in a new heaven and earth, a healing tree with 12 crops of fruit will stand in the midst of that city (Revevation 21:2). Sounds like we will be in the garden again.
Fast forward or reverse to my parents who always grew a garden, and I was involved. Each spring Dad plowed up a space of land, and we planted, then hoed and weeded, picked produce and froze or canned the extras. That was busy work for six months out of the year–before the raking leaves and shoveling snow set in. Yet I knew where most of our food originated, and I knew what it should taste like and how vulnerable we all were to weather and pests.
This year I have returned to gardening and I can’t believe how much money I am spending for the privilege. I ordered some raised corrugated metal planting beds. Then I needed help to create the new garden. So I hired someone to take out hedges to make more room in the backyard. Then I invited my brother, the experienced gardener, to fly down to put the metal beds together and create an irrigation system. We bought many bags of dirt to fill and packed my car full on several trips from the store. Later I purchased some plants, flowers, and seeds. I sprinkled soap chips around the beds to discourage rodents (Irish Spring was suggested). I have been watering in between our lawn irrigation days, thinning some of the veggies, and plucking nasty looking leaves.
Last week I bought some vegetable fertilizer since the peas, radishes and carrots look wimpy and pale. I need to continue spraying copper on the squash, pepper and tomatoes for mildew or some other crud. And I have some Seven or Tea Tree oil to sprinkle or spray on veggies if it appears that bugs are chewing. Why am I banging my head against the botanical wall?
I have grandchildren and I want them to know the gardening heritage along with recognizing food fresh from the earth. The oldest boy helped me pick strawberries and blueberries last year, and he enjoys plucking low fruit from the lemon tree. He got to taste a few grape tomatoes from one plant last spring and he wanted more.
So I thought I would expand what the backyard can offer. Important life lessons might even appear. Actually weather, bugs, diseases and squirrels are on my mind. It certainly is easier to go to the grocery store or farmer’s market. Yet watching plants peek up from the dirt, unfurl, blossom and turn into food is the magic I desire. And nothing tastes as good. Which leads me to think of Jesus–Creator and the original gardener. He is also the sustaining vine and we are the branches. “No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine,” (John 15:4, NIV).
Gardeners know the care and concern that goes into helping plants grow or mature. It’s a time-consuming, expensive and vulnerable occupation. Waiting for results and savoring the outcome are divine rewards.
Questions for personal journaling or group discussion:
1. What seed has God planted in you that is slowly maturing?
2. To what vine are you currently attached? Who or what is nurturing you?
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