It is a good thing that we have a good gardening column in The Courier-Herald with the capable Marianne Binetti giving us good advice.
I usually consider myself a pretty good gardener and certainly not a beginner, but I am flunking hanging baskets! I received a really beautiful basket from my kids for Mother’s Day and it is in very sad shape. The hot weather has taken its toll; the flowers are sagging and the leaves are wilting. Well, you get the picture.
Now add in some guilt because it was such a wonderful Mother’s Day present. Finally, after complaining to friends, I am going to water the basket from the bottom, using a bucket, rather than pouring water from the top and having the water drain promptly out the bottom, taking the nutrients with it. And I am going to be very diligent to water every day.
You may wonder what this has to do with our relationship with God. Consider this beautiful bit of advice from James 1: 21. In simple humility, let our gardener God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.
When I read this and considered my plants, I thought about how often I read Scripture and then overlook the lessons intended for me. It is like pouring water on a dry plant and then the water takes all the nutrients out the bottom.
Scripture is meant to water us when we are spiritually dry. That requires us to spend time seriously reflecting upon what we have read. And it means taking the time to ask God to give the verses new meaning for us at that particular time. For me, that means stopping, being quiet and praying. That is not too easy for many of us as we are always loaded up with our “to do” lists and activities. But it is worth the effort. It is pretty amazing the results when we can set aside time to let the Scripture penetrate us.
There is also a message in the very first phrase: “In simple humility.” By accepting that God, not you or I, is the master gardener, we are putting things in the right perspective. Often we turn to God for advice and then promptly try to put our own spin on things. Oops, that is not what humility means. Sometimes God’s Word points to advice we would rather not hear and yet it is the best we can ever get. Lately, I have meditated upon God’s command to “be still and know that I am God.” And the advice that finally came to me after I had meditated for several times was one simple word: listen. If we can listen, the result may be what is being promised in the second part of the James verse: God will landscape us with the Word.
The best part is the last phrase. As a result of following God in humility and paying attention to the Word, God can make a salvation-garden of our lives. How beautiful is that! Through faith, we can receive the gift of salvation through Jesus’ sacrificial life. It does require that we accept the need for forgiveness and that we then let go of those things that have dragged us down. In gardening terms, we need to prune the dried or damaged parts of ourselves to let the new growth take over. It would indeed be wonderful to absorb this gift of grace, rather than let it pass on through our “pot” unnoticed.
I do not think I can ever water plants again without thinking more about what I am doing. It is not just a task, it is a life-giving activity. The plants depend on me to take care of their needs. In a like manner, we need to depend upon God to take care of us. Actually, God has already done that; now it is up to us to receive what God has to offer and to do it willingly and with humility. And just like tending plants, we cannot let this go “for some other day.” We need our spiritual pruning and watering routinely.
Cindy Ehlke writes from Cavalry Presbyterian in Enumclaw.