Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Tale of Two Gardens.

A few years ago I decided I was going to be a gardener...  sadly that only lasted two season.  Gardening was probably one of the most enjoyable things I've ever tried, but it's definetly work. As with everything I try, I jumped into this venture with my usual gusto and read everything I could get my hands on about gardening.  There was nothing like planting those little seeds and watching and waiting for the tiny first leaves to burst through the soil.  It was amazing to watch the plants grow big and strong.  We all loved to go out to the garden and find the hidden treasure of fruit on the vine, the children would pick the veggies and eat them right there.  One thing is for sure... the bounty from the garden was much for delicious and satisfying than what you buy in the store.  I was amazed by all the little lessons that the garden brought to life.  I truly loved my little garden, but life was busy with a little baby and I had to take a break. 

We had built two garden boxes on the side of our house.  One we filled with some extra special soil we had delivered, that was full of all composted material, because we heard this was the best soil to use.  We didn't have enough of that soil for the second box and thinking that it wouldn't matter that much we filled the second box up with bags of soil we bought from our local Home Depot...  We prepared both boxes exactly the same way, except for that soil, then we waited and watched for our bounty to spring forth. 

After a couple weeks the box with the special soil was filled with tiny little sprouts, the beginnings of tomato plants, cucumber plants, summer squash, mint, thyme, and oregano.  It was so exciting to see the little bitty leaves grow each day and wait expectantly for the first fruit they would produce.  We also watched the second box, but all it produced was weeds.  We would pick those weeds and wait, but nothing happened.  I was very disappointed in this little garden, because I had planted those little watermelon and cantaloupe seeds, in that second box, and I couldn't wait to bite into a big juicy slice of fresh from the garden summer fruit, but nothing happened.  I thought maybe those seeds just took a little longer to sprout, so I kept my eye on that second garden, but week after week, it produced nothing, but weeds. 

That second garden was a lot more work than, the first garden, that was growing lush with the healthy plants that had been planted in that special soil.  We decided to fertilize the second garden hoping it would produce something, but when the little sprouts would come up they would not grow and soon they would be dead...  digging them up we could see that the second garden box was full of pests.   They had overtaken our little garden.  Eventually I gave up on that box producing anything.

The first little box with the rich, composted soil, grew beautiful, healthy fruit that was a delight to pick and eat.  It wasn't full of pests or overgrown with weeds.  It produced enough fruit that we were able to have some of our own and share it with others.  I loved that little garden.  I realized a valuable lesson from the tale of those two garden boxes... soil makes all the difference.

I recalled this lesson as I was trying to chew on  a certain verse yesterday...  Eph 3:17 "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith: and that you may be ROOTED AND GROUNDED IN LOVE."

I used to think that this verse was speaking about how we should love others, but in the last couple of years, God has been showing me that you could never give anything you don't have.   I was always trying love people or produce fruit, but my soil was depleted.  I was producing no fruit or bitter fruit.  My heart was not rooted in the soil of God's love.   I had nothing to draw from.   In recent years we have heard a lot about how our food comes from depleted soil and how we are not receiving the vitamins and minerals that we need for health and vitality.   Our hearts are in the same condition.  We are trying to produce Christian fruit, but our soil had nothing that offers life to ourselves or others. 

Paul tells the Ephesians he prays that they will be able to comprehend the breadth, length, depth, and height of the love that God the Father has for them, that he displayed through Christ his son.  Paul tells us that we have been chosen, adopted, blessed, and loved all for HIS GOOD PLEASURE.  Paul tries to get his readers to understand that they are the delight of God.  When our hearts are rooted in the good soil of God's EXTRAVAGANT LOVE and grounded in His AMAZING GRACE we will produce abundant, healthy, life-giving fruit of the Spirit.

Galatians tells us what kind of fruit we will produce IF we are rooted and grounded in the love of God...  Love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, goodness and self-control.  These are not things that you can produce on your own.  The plant can only bring forth the life that it receives from the soil.  If the soil is depleted it can't produce anything, except weeds and pests.  If you are trying to live a Christian life without having fully experienced the Love that God has for you, essentially your like that little second garden box. 

So, uproot yourself from the depleted soil and get rooted into that rich, generous soil of God's love.  Begin to ponder the LOVE of God.  Dwell on the fact that God says he sent his son to redeem a people for HIS GOOD PLEASURE.  Think about what it means for John to say "For God SO loved the world, that he sent his only son, that whosoever might believe in him would not perish, but have everlasting life."  SO LOVED....  His love for us moved him to action.  Think about how he chose you, he adopted you, he DELIGHTS in you. 

When we are rooted in the love of God, our fruit will overflow.  The rich soil of his love, mercy, and grace will satisfy our longing souls and produce abundantly.  You won't have to force yourself to be kind...  when God has been kind to you, you will naturally be kind to others.  You won't have to fake goodness, you will be full of goodness.  You will not have to force patience, because you know the Father has been patient with  you. 

What soil are you rooted in today?  Are you filled with the love of God?  Are you overwhelmed today to be the delight of the Father?  Or are you bitter, angry and frustrated.  Is it hard for you to be gracious, patient and kind?  You might want to check your soil today.

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