Blog from Kristy Engel….

The Garden Before Us

If you follow me on Facebook, you may have seen me post some pictures of my very first garden. (I’ll include a before and after picture at the end of this post!) I have always wanted to try growing a garden and have a lot of respect for those who grow large and abundant gardens, both of flowers and vegetables. Unfortunately, the logistics of my job mean that I’m rarely home to see a garden through the planting, tending and harvesting. I might make one of those times but never all of them at once. And so, I’ve never grown my own garden. Until now.

Our current times have made it possible for me to be home through the spring and summer. In all of the time I’ve lived in Georgia, I have never been home for a stretch of time this long…so I decided to finally plant a garden. I researched online and with gardening friends how best to grow, what to grow, when to plant, HOW to plant, what works easily and what is difficult…all of the things I need to do to have a successful garden.

And then just today, I read something that compared gardening to our relationship with God. As I thought on the words, I began to grow this idea more and more, so I wanted to share my thoughts with you today.

1. Planting seeds/preparing the ground: The appropriate way to plant seeds/seedlings is to make sure that your ground is warm enough, contains the proper nutrition for accepting the new plantings, and is in a place to get enough sunlight every day. Just like gardens, we can’t expect growth in our relationship with God unless we do some preparation. We need to take time to learn, listen and build the right foundation so that we can deepen a relationship with God and become a vessel for sharing love.
2. Clearing the weeds: Weeds seem to pop up in most gardens and yet I’ve already learned some valuable tips. First, lay down protection between the ground and the soil so that weeds can’t creep up into the garden. Like a garden, we need to surround ourselves with protection…prayer and the Holy Spirit are the first that I think of. It doesn’t mean a few weeds won’t come through, but you do what you can to prevent the majority. And, when some weeds sprout, you remove them before they take root and do harm. This means that you check your garden (and heart) each day. Pull those weeds before they get so big that they smother the good stuff.
3. Patience: Gardens don’t grow overnight and neither does our relationship with God. One day of devotions and prayer is a start but it is not the end. Strong relationships require consistency and patience to weather a storm. It might mean putting an extra shield of protection when danger comes (like plastic over plants to prevent damage from a frost). You can’t leave the plastic on forever…it has its role to play and then you return to the daily discipline. Yet slowly, growth happens. I’ve learned that planting some things that grow quickly, helps me have patience for those vegetables that take more time. And…consistent watering. Making sure I have a time every day devoted to watering and checking on my garden builds patience and strong plants. The same is true with our relationship with God. Some things may be easier for you…reading scripture or taking time to pray each day. The harder things, like learning to listen for God’s voice, may not come quickly but slowly you will see growth and eventually the fruit of your discipline.
4. Harvesting: Oh finally! Tomatoes and zucchini and peppers! It was so worth the time it took to tend this garden (I’m imagining this!) and tending your relationship with God will also bring great joy. Things that used to throw you over the edge, you now enter into with quiet and trust. Those people around you that you simply couldn’t tolerate, now you see them as God’s children…struggling with so many of the things you struggle with. It has all been worth it in the end. And eating on the food from this harvest…well, I’m imagining it will taste better than store-bought and I will appreciate it much more.
Maybe this analogy didn’t speak to you the way it does to me (a first-time gardener!) but I see such value in all of the steps I take each day to prepare to be the person I was created to be. I see the same value in tending my relationship to God. I don’t want a life full of weeds that strangle the good gifts from God. I want a life full of color, life and abundance. How about you?


The day I planted

Less than two weeks later