My Father is a Gardener

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch in me that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” John 15:1

I love to garden. For me, time spent in the  garden is a time of reflection, meditation, worship and prayer. I can allow my thoughts to go to deeper things while I achieve the work that needs to be done in the yard. I get many thoughts of the things I see in the garden, the green, the furtile soil, the color, the bloom, even the weeds, that I can relate to life. I love gardening analogies for there are so many that pertain to life and the condition of the human heart…the contents of our soul.

Some weeds are beautiful to the eye, if you don’t  know your garden well, you might consider them a flower and let them be. But if they remain, they will grow at a faster rate than the plants they nestle near, thus growing around the plants and choking out their life. So you must pull the weed, ever so slowly, for every gardener knows that if you pull a weed from dry soil quickly you will break the roots. If you moisten the soil and then pull gently, you get the whole root and eliminate the entire weed. Allow me to relate this to life.

The weeds in our heart are the undesirable traits. The flaws and shortcomings, bad habits that we would like to be rid of but struggle with. When we don’t manage them, they get out of hand and seemingly control our thoughts, attitudes and actions. We need to carefully tend to these issues, addressing each in a healthy way. We can do so by reading, learning, praying, growing. Remain  teachable and glean from the wisdom of those who have overcome. This is when we become successful at pulling the weeds from our heart. If we do rash or hasty things to curb our shortcomings or cover them up altogether, then they only re-emerge at a later time.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Mark 12:30-31

We live out in the country. We have neighbors, but everyone has a 2 acre plot of land, so our gardens do not touch. However, if I do not stay on top of my garden I may find a spontaneously sprouted oak tree in my flowerbed. Our old house was in the middle of town, so the lots were smaller and our yards touched our neighbors yard. I recall that my neighbor was a wonderful woman, but she was a single mother who had very little time to care for her yard. She would perform two big yard cleaning days a year. As a result, even though I was diligent about the care and maintenance of my yard, I would have to contend with weeds that would germinate and migrate from her yard to ours. In essence, my weeds were attended to, but I was having to deal with her weeds as well. This could have been a source of frustration for me, but I had grace and compassion for her, for what could she do? She had minimal help to speak of.

Have you ever been in a spot where you are doing great in your life, things going well, but someone who’s life is full of weeds comes along and “disrupts” things for you? What do you do? The closer you get to a person, the greater the chance of their problems affecting you. Do you build a wall around your garden so you can ignore their need for help? Or do you shoulder the burden and show love?

It is a whole lot easier to love those who love us back or are easy to love. It is true, some people are more pleasant, their lives more attractive, making them much easier to love. But God wants us to love those who are hard to love also. We are commissioned to love the unlovable. By doing so you will bear fruit, fruit that will last. What is good fruit?

“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit.” Luke 6:44

I mentioned we live out in the country and get some “spontaneous” growth in our yard. Just a few days ago my husband picked five pumpkins for me. That’s right, pumpkins. I didn’t even know pumpkins grew in the summer, but there they were. Five very attractive pumpkins!  We have this spontaneous patch growing in the back of the house. Last spring we had some dirt brought in to build a hill. Some of the dirt must have come from a plot of land that grew pumpkins because this is where the pumpkins grew. Now, I did nothing to nurture or care for these pumpkins. They look amazing, but I can’t imagine they would taste good to eat. I’d say they were “ornamental” fruit. Some trees or vines bear good fruit, fruit that is pleasing to the eye but also good to eat and nourish us. Some trees bear ornamental fruit. This type of fruit looks really good, but tastes terrible! I think this type of fruit is an example of the areas of life that are for “show”.  Things done for show are good deeds, but are done because we feel we have to or are aware that people might be watching us and we want to look good. As Christians we are always being watched to see if our actions match our words. I want to be the kind of person who does good… producing good fruit that others can eat…fruit that I can share. I don’t want to ever do anything for show. There is truly no reward or personal satisfaction for such acts of kindness. I think people can tell when our kindness is done with a genuine heart, maybe not at first always, but eventually, yes, our heart shines through.  Let us do all things for the right reason, because we truly care.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” Galatians 5:22

It is my desire to be a Watchman of Compassion. To love a people strong, to help them overcome the weeds in their life, to prune the garden of their heart, that they might break forth and bud into new growth, new life, and experience the exhilaration of the Abundance in the God I serve. Let us not only produce good fruit, let us produce such a harvest of it that our branches hang low under the weight of the goodness we produce!

 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”

 2 Cor. 3:3 & 4