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Learning from Yet Another Gardening Metaphor

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I’m terrible at gardening; it’s truly impressive how quickly I can kill a plant. Honestly, caring for someone’s plants while they’re out of town is one of the most stressful things for me. Animals I can handle, but plants are an absolute mystery. 

For years, I was annoyed at the plethora of gardening metaphors I encountered at women’s conferences, in devotionals, and on the interwebs. I couldn’t relate to the things they were saying and it was yet another way I felt excluded from women’s ministries.

But, over time, I’ve learned that the metaphors are pretty apt. Plus, the Bible is ripe with farming analogies so it only makes sense for us to carry those over into our conversations today.

Patience

Talk about a word that no one likes to hear or discuss! But patience is necessary in just about any area of life and yields dividends over time.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV) 

I love that these verses make it clear that we’re not the ones responsible for producing the patience. We don’t have to concentrate real hard, grit our teeth, and clench our fists to pop out an ounce of patience. Instead, we get to sit in God’s presence and allow his character to fill us and change us from the inside out. The Holy Spirit working in us is the one that produces the patience that we long for in our lives.

Persistence

One of the few things I know for sure about gardening is that you don’t get a beautiful garden overnight. You can’t garden for an hour or a day or a week and then expect to reap a bounty of wonderfulness.

And life is much the same way.

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9 (ESV)

The Bible talks about perseverance over and over and over again because it’s hard to live a life of faith. Honestly, this Christian journey is not for the faint of heart. Just like any other relationship, we have to put in the time day after day after day and choose not to give up. Some days a leap of faith is getting out of bed in the morning and other days it’s moving across the country following the voice of the Lord.

No matter what that faith step looks like for you today, I encourage you to take it, persevere, and seek his face.

Payoff

One of my friends loves to garden and is always thrilled when her garden is able to produce a few tiny strawberries or a couple of ripe tomatoes. I always celebrate these victories with her, but I know that if it had been my garden I wouldn’t have been content with that payoff. I would’ve expected so much more.

This Christian life is full of payoffs but they rarely look the way I want them to. I want things to be easy, I want influence and wealth, and I want to be able to do what I want when I want. Instead, I get payoffs like learning the beauty of grace, confronting old wounds, and growing closer to others. And I’m so grateful that the payoffs of my faith journey are not the things that I would choose because they’re worth so much more.

While I still know nothing about gardening and have nothing short of a black thumb, I now see value in the gardening metaphor. I could probably write a whole month’s worth of posts using this metaphor alone, but don’t worry, I won’t.

This gardening metaphor is another sweet reminder of God’s goodness and his constant and loving presence in my life. I’m grateful that I can learn much from my fellow gardeners and that I am in the hands of the ultimate Gardener.

Do you garden? Has it taught you anything about life and faith?

Do you see any benefit of the gardening metaphor in our Christian journies?

To go Deeper: Fruit of the Spirit Isn’t in the Produce Aisle, Patience

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