Tuesday, March 6, 2007

A Picture Perfect Garden

When we bought our dream property, six forested acres of ravine and creeks , the soil was dark and soft – perfect, I thought, for growing a vegetable garden.
I learned from my mother that every self-respecting housewife plants a vegetable garden every summer and I had always dutifully followed her example. The first year we lived on our acreage I fully expected to grow a garden that would give me bragging rights!!

As soon as any danger of frost was past , I bought my seeds and my husband helped me to prepare the soil, and plant a variety of vegetable seeds in carefully measured rows. We watered our freshly planted garden plot and waited for the seeds to come up.
And come up they did, every single one of them, in healthy, green, flawlessly straight rows, with not a weed in sight. How proud I was of my garden… Mom had never been able to grow a garden that did not need weeding even before the sprouted seedlings had time to properly establish themselves!
My garden was picture-perfect, but it was not long before I realized there was something wrong with my ‘picture’.
My garden had stopped growing; the plants , though perfect, remained small - very small. Puzzled, I waited and watched, but as harvest season approached I was forced to acknowledge that my garden was, at best, a miniature version of the real deal. I never did have to weed my garden and while the plants all matured , they were but a teasing pretense of my expected harvest.
My tiny carrots were about 1” long at the end of a tiny bunch of greenery. My corn was adorable… ¾” corn cobs complete with the brown tassel on top. My peas were perfect , the pods formed and could be opened to reveal tiny rows of perfectly uniform minuscule peas. The beans, the cabbage, the lettuce – it was a garden meant for a miniature world !
Charming… but far from fulfilling it’s purpose - to yield a harvest for healthy eating and canning.
While the idea of a garden without weeds was appealing, I had to face reality - Where weeds don’t grow , a garden won’t grow either!
(It was only later that I learned that it takes years to put nutrients back into reclaimed forest soil which is devoid of nitrogen.)

In thinking about my ‘picture-perfect ‘ garden I realized that it demonstrated a spiritual truth. There is a saying , “As in the physical so in the spiritual.”

A question that skeptics so often ask is , “If God is God why does He allow evil in the world? Why did He create man when He knew they would sin?”
My garden gave me an answer.

Where there is no tension between good and evil , man cannot choose good and grow strong in spirit. God created man with free choice, he could choose God or the absence of God - evil results when God is absent.
How prone we are to take something for granted until we lose it, and then we yearn for it back! So unless man is aware of the alternative of being God’s child, how can he appreciate his need for God? We have David’s agonized cry to God recorded in Psalm 51:11 “Cast me not away from Thy presence and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.”
Unless man experiences evil ( the absence of God), and hates it – there is nothing to motivate him to strive for the things that are good, to walk in obedience to God.
Without a battle , there is no victory! Without a challenge, there is nothing to conquer, and no conquerors.
We have Paul’s victory cry in Romans 8:35-37 where he declares, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation or distress, or persecution or famine, or nakedness or peril or sword?...... nay!!! in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us! “

Consider Adam and Eve. They lived in a perfectly harmonious world. There was nothing to disturb their tranquility, they were at peace with God and each other, there was no threat to their well-being, they had no concept of evil. God was the center of their world, the Giver of all things, the Provider of all their needs and desires… they had no fear of lack! But at the first opportunity they choose to turn from good and choose evil. They had no resistance , because they had not been exercised to be strong.

We experienced a violent wind storm recently in our area.
Not far from where we live there stood a large orderly grove of planted trees. When the storm passed, it left destruction behind. But what was interesting to see about this grove was that the trees all around the border still stood tall and strong, but the trees sheltered inside were all snapped off like toothpicks.
Why? because the outer trees had withstood wind storms as they grew and had grown strong , exercised by the storms. The trees in the center had grown up too protected and shielded by the outer trees and had no strength to withstand the powerful storm when it came.

The storms of life and the difficulties and temptations you face will either destroy you or make you strong, depending on whether you choose to resist the wrong and embrace the good or if you choose to simply be swept along the easiest course.
Trials and suffering will either make you bitter or better !

We live in an instant gratification society where ease and freebies are the rule - we have forgotten that ‘good’ does not come easy, that something of worth is worth fighting for!
Even Jesus, “though He were a son , yet learned he obedience by the things which He suffered” ( Heb. 5:8) Jesus was our perfect example- shall we attain to righteousness without effort?
Hebrews 5:14 “But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”
It is a bit ironic that though we desire a life of ease… we are obsessed with bodily exercise ! And just as our muscles are not strong without exercise so also our spirits will not grow strong in resisting evil if we are not exercised , therefore, God has allowed us to live this earthly life in the midst of trials and difficulties.
But He has not left us helpless !! He has promised that His strength is available in our weakness and has given us all things pertaining to life and godliness.(II Peter 1:3)

Ephesians 6:10 “Finally , my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might… Put on the whole armour of God that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”

5 comments:

Lovella said...

I really like your personal experience stories. I enjoy how you can make a lesson out of anything, even something that requires a good dose of (lets just call it compost).
Have a great day.

Lovella said...

I don't think my comment went through. If it did, sorry this is number 2, I was just saying that I love your personal experience stories. It is amazing how you can find a lesson in just about anything.
Have a great day.

Julie said...

Lovella, you are not old enough to start repeating yourself... but I'm old enough to enjoy the 'repeat' just as much as the original!!! smile

Yokoso~ said...

I love this Julie,

"Unless man experiences evil ( the absence of God), and hates it – there is nothing to motivate him to strive for the things that are good, to walk in obedience to God."

this is so true!!!

Yokoso~ said...

I love this Julie,

"Unless man experiences evil ( the absence of God), and hates it – there is nothing to motivate him to strive for the things that are good, to walk in obedience to God."

this is so true!!!

Love
Demara