There is one area of my life that, despite my best intentions and efforts, usually ends in failure. It is the area of gardening. I rarely keep plants alive. Leafy greens, blooming bulbs and even the un-needy cacti die slow, painful deaths all around my house. I end up having to buy replacement greenery, much to my frustration. I’ve even marked on my calendar when my plants need to be watered so as to prevent their death and avoid making another trip to the store. But this has not worked! My desire for a greener life exceeds my ability to fulfill it — c’est la vie.
I have over-analyzed this, plummeting the depths of the darkest recesses of my heart to figure out what makes my thumb so yellowish-brown! After all, I’m good at other “tending” jobs, such as nannying. All the kids grew tall and were happy, fed, dressed, and stayed alive every day I cared for them. So what makes keeping houseplants alive so hard for me?
This globe contains hundreds of thousands of species of plants — just think of all the tending necessary to sustain that amount of life on a daily basis. Amid the variety, all plants share the need for nourishment, protection, and plenty of time to flourish. Pruning occurs, and flowers wither and die, but only in order that room be made for further growth in a coming season. What a complex and amazing process! Given my track record in keeping houseplants, I am well aware of the fact that someone greater than I must keep the world of horticulture spinning.
God is the Great Gardener.
He brilliantly tends the entire world, knowing well the particularities of everything His hand creates. That includes us! The Psalmist says, “You knit me together in my mother’s womb,” in praise of the great depth of knowledge and careful nurturing that has characterized God’s tending hand from the very beginning of his life. God is at work to design us into beautiful gardens as we continue to grow up in Him.
I have recently experienced God’s green thumb working in my garden, in very clear ways. Knowing that God was tending me in a new way, I assumed that the plants in my garden that were not thriving would be nurtured back to life and that I would feel immediately better. I have instead felt the pain of His pruning shears and the pressure of His shovel as He deals with the unkempt plants that have turned yellowish brown in the hands of the world. I watched as God did not simply water and shed sunlight on my withering branches. Instead, He dug up and replaced the plants in my garden that, because they were tended poorly and were bringing death to me. God is carefully landscaping my heart with new plants that will thrive and bear fruit under His watch.
John 15:5 says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” When we remain in God, we allow Him the keys to our garden so He can do His brilliant work. Abiding means that our garden is an extension of His tending hand. We do not uproot, prune, water, or find nourishment on our own. Instead, we allow Him free reign to grow life in every corner of our hearts.
If your heart hurts today in an area of old pain, do you think God is trying to remove an old plant from your garden? Will you let Him do this wonderful work, though it may cause you pain? Let the Great Gardener shovel, shear, and perfectly shape each and every plant in the garden of your heart so only wholeness and beauty will flourish.