Lessons I learned while sweating.
Just before I hopped the plane to fly home from North Carolina, my Amy asked if I could tie back the new growth on her dear hydrangea. Green garden tape in hand, I headed to the front yard but could not find her new plant. Asking her again, I realized I could not see it because it was obscured by overgrown bushes.
Back to the garage for clippers and a garbage pail. Did I mention it was June in North Carolina? Did I mention it was hot? And humid? And all I had brought with me were dresses? No matter. Out I went and began trimming, cutting, shaping and sweeping, and then I moved a few feet and did some more trimming, cutting, shaping and sweeping, oh yes, and sweating!
Wait, hadn't I just been tasked with tying a pretty little plant to its trellis? Running through my mind was the children's book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, he's going to ask you for a glass of milk; when you give him the milk, he'll probably ask you for a straw, and then... [well, check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gyk55GYnGl0
Or "One thing leads to another," the song goes. (The Fixx)
Once again, I thought about how much tending the garden is like tending my spiritual life. It is good to take stock. In so doing, we realize-
things need to be cut away...
the dead stuff best be cleared from underneath... so disease doesn't grow
irrigation needs to be checked... to make sure there is ample water
Happy First day of Summer, Friends! What a great time to evaluate our spiritual lives, maybe get rid of some things and try a few new ones. And could we think a bit about how our hearts are growing?
Like our gardens which-
-need to be trimmed? Perhaps we have some not-so-good habits we have developed.
-Dead stuff removed? Are you aware of unforgiveness or hardness of heart?
-Going too many directions at once? Hey, you are the master of your schedule/your travel, business friend; you are the maker of the kids' camps and lessons, Mom. Why do you feel compelled to run at such a pace? 'Any closer to God as a result?
So be careful how you live. Don't live like fools, but like those who are wise.1
-Getting enough water, fertilizer? Without a steady supply of God's Word, and even more so, without being connected to the Vine and filled anew with the Holy Spirit, we will run dry. Otherwise, we are a people tied to a religion without a relationship, and we have no power to live as we are meant.
~>be filled with the [Holy] Spirit and constantly guided by Him.2
~>You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you3
Here are a few glimpses from Summer dawning in my own back garden, their symbolism, and scriptural support:
One of my daily joys is welcoming birds to my back garden and watching them; I hope my life in Christ is somehow attractive to folks I meet along the way.
Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity.4
Discovered the leaves were being eaten from my young yellow rosebush, so I had to protect it. Hmmm, sometimes I have to protect my heart from certain people and things. Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.5
In the garden, there is give and take. These girls give me two beautiful brown eggs each day, but they also have a field day with my shrubbery; they dig and make messes. Oh well, that's life with peeps in general, right? A little tolerance, believing the best about the other, giving each other space ... Can't we all just get along? Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.6
And what would a garden be without new seedlings? Started these sunflower seeds, watering them each day in anticipation of what they will be. Hey, have you planted any seeds of love or faith or hope lately? We have what people are looking for-the Lord Jesus Christ. Ask God to give you an opportunity each day, won't you? You have so much to give. After all, you are the light of the world.7
Sometimes our sweat is worth it ... yep, it is.
1 - Ephesians 5.15
2 - Ephesians 5.18b
3 - Acts 1.8a
4 - Colossians 4.5
5 - Proverbs 4.23
6 - Romans 12.18
7 - Matthew 5.14a