“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. John 15:1
Over my life, I have worked many jobs: tree climber, pastor, teacher and gardener, to name a few. Though I have spent more time on my knees pulling weeds, than in prayer, it is amazing the lessons that God has taught me there. You see, when people think of gardening, they tend to gravitate towards the more glamorous tasks, like planting and picking. And while those jobs, certainly are in the job description, these are not the only tasks involved between Spring and the Fall harvest. Since, we who are believers are God’s gardening projects, it is important to pay attention to all the jobs that our gardener has marked in His calendar!
First, there is pest control. Jesus warned that those who heard His teaching but did not allow it into their hearts would have the birds of the air come and eat it right off the top of the soil before it could grow. Some of the pests in our lives might look like – the football game that we are thinking about while pastor is finishing his sermon. Or it might be the phone call that we never return that is asking for us to help out a friend who is moving next week. “My back felt sore the last time I did that.” we think. “Why doesn’t someone else step in this time?” Whether your solution is a scarecrow or a dog who chases off the groundhogs, we need to find a way to guard God’s seed from the pests that come to steal and destroy our fruitfulness.
Next, no garden makes it through the heat of summer without irrigation. (Unless you are growing rice in a swamp). The Apostle Paul tells us, that His job had been to plant, but Apollos watered the church. If you don’t think watering is important then ask the farmer who is helplessly looking out at his field of parched corn, with no rain in the forecast. But God will send showers of His mercy. Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount that God sends that rain on both the just and the unjust – and I have often been the unjust and much in need of His grace. How wonderful a Savior we have, who helps us with his merciful rain, when we need it most and deserve it least.
Then, comes God’s weeding. Isn’t it amazing how weeds grow? Even during droughts, in spite of weed barriers or even spray – they find a way to survive, and, in the process, they will strangle the tomatoes, beans or okra, that we are trying to grow. In ancient Israel, farmers didn’t get on their knees to rid a field of weeds. Instead, they simply took a torch and burned it, then reploughed and planted again. Ouch! I have had a few fires in my life. Usually, it has been after God has dealt with me and given me second and third chances about selfish choices and I have not listened. Then, in one way or another He sends a painful yet redeeming discipline. It is not God’s desire to hurt us, but He sends a firestorm to burn to the ground all that stuff we insisted we had to have, so that we would meekly accept his breaking up our fallow ground and replanting good seed in our hearts.
I have often been like a gardener in a hurry. We used to read books to our boys about a Frog and his friend Mr. Toad. In one of those stories, Frog planted a garden and the next morning he rushed out to see if it grew. Of course, there was nothing happening yet. So then, Frog watered it, sang to it and watched it closely, but still nothing. Only after a few days, when he had all but given up, was Frog amazed to wake one morning to see the new plants grow. It is the same with the harvest that we are longing for in our lives. It doesn’t happen in Spring and for some crops (think pumpkins) it doesn’t even happen in Summer. We all must patiently accept the appointed tasks that God has marked for us in His garden calendar. We have to learn His lessons about sowing with tears, pest control watering and weeding before we can come rejoicing carrying home the sheaves with the gardener of our hearts!
3 thoughts on “The Gardener’s Calendar”
“The most pleasing aspect of all farm work is that it affords the mind more free time to think, and to investigate matters that have a bearing on one’s moral development.” Musonius Rufus
Pastor Pete, you have many great analogies in this post.
Thanks Manette. Yes! The garden is God’s classroom.