On Saturday I worked in my garden. I know, it shouldn’t come as a shock, but I must admit it. I haven’t kept up with my garden much lately.
It started in July when we put in a pool. All the kids and I wanted to do every day was be there. When you’re relaxing on your own deck any time of day–just a dip away from refreshment in the middle of August–working and sweating in the heat isn’t as appealing anymore.
I also avoided the garden because I’ve allowed it to grow up so badly the task just seemed insurmountable. Just wait til fall and let Matt till it all under was my thought.
But even to do that, there were necessary tasks: picking the remaining black-eyed peas, hilling my fall potatoes, pulling up monstrous marigolds, cutting the dry okra pods from which I save seed, and cutting down the okra stalks to prepare for tilling.
I grunted my way out to the garden as the kids played beside me. As I tended to my garden chores on the beautiful fall Saturday, I realized something. I really enjoyed it. Still.
Truth be told, I was afraid this gardening kick might be losing its spark. When I would look out at my once-beautiful garden with disgust at my lack of attention, and when I lost the passion these last few months, I wondered if my husband was right and this whole thing was just a phase.
But I still loved it. I still loved it! Filling my bucket with dried black-eyed pea pods. Picking perfectly beautiful green beans. Admiring the carrot sprouts that came up on their own after I let a few carrots from last year go to seed. Anticipating a fall potato harvest planted from potatoes I had dug from spring. Feeling the sun on my back and the breeze on my skin. Coming inside to shower and relax with a cappuccino as reward for my hard work.
Yes, I had missed this.
It made me wonder how often our spiritual lives begin to look like my overgrown garden. The excitement of new things has waned. Something new and more enticing took our attention. Maybe we just decided it simply wasn’t worth the hard work, the sweat, the effort.
And meanwhile, our hearts become overgrown with sin, selfishness, and laziness.
We lie beside our pool, knowing this isn’t truly satisfying, not for any sustaining length of time, yet we gaze at the overgrown garden of our hearts wondering how in the world do we clean this up?
Many times, we don’t.
We don’t venture into the gardens of our hearts where it might be kind of ugly. We don’t want to come face to face with what we’ve allowed to take root. And we don’t want to do the work of getting the garden back in shape.
Oh, but what blessings we are missing by turning a blind eye to the depravity of our souls that, left unchecked, will take over and eventually crowd out any potential harvest.
The good news is, we don’t have to work ourselves into a new heart. We know from John the Baptist, Peter, Paul, the apostles, and ultimately Jesus Himself, that the answer is to repent. To acknowledge our depraved hearts, trust in Jesus’ complete cleansing, and turn from our sin.
For those in Christ, we know that Jesus’ sacrifice covered the entirety of our sin–past, present, and future (Hebrews 10:14). There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). But as long as we’re still in these sin-sick bodies, we still need repentance for restoration of fellowship with our Father (Isaiah 59:1-2) and ultimately to begin producing the fruit we were created to produce (Ephesians 2:10).
There might be some hard heart-work involved in an overgrown garden, but we know that Jesus is there with us every step of the way. It is His work in us, after all. We just have to show up and let him do it.
Have you let the garden of your heart get overgrown? Don’t look at how far you’ve gone. Look at the one step it takes to restore the beautiful fellowship with your loving Father whose faithful love never ceases.
Consider God’s words through Jeremiah to the people of Israel after their sin caused God to drive them out of their land:
Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile. (Jeremiah 29:12-14 ESV)
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