Oh, the joys of gardening.
I love this time of year.
As I look out our kitchen window, across the backyard and towards our garden. All the fresh goodness we’ll be harvesting from it anytime now, fresh robust tomatoes, sweet cucumbers, crisp lettuce. I can even remember how it all began, our garden that is. How we took our time and really planned its location, just enough sun, just enough shade… did the ground drain correctly when it rained?
And after we picked our spot we carefully, and with much sweat, tilled up the rich dark soil, turning it over again and again until it was just right, fertilized, watered, prepared. Afterwards we fenced it all in, closed the gate and waited, with high expectation, till the last signs of frost were gone from the air.
Then, when everything was just right, we planted. Boy did we plant, rows of tomatoes, for salsa of course, bunches of red and green peppers, rows of tender leaf lettuce, mounds of zucchini and clusters of cucumber. Then, last but not least, we planted just a few big beefy tomato plants with visions of BLT’s dancing in our heads, for nothing can beat the taste of a fresh, juicy tomato plucked right from the vine and sliced into heavenly portions, yum.
We watered and prayed, weeded and tended. We spent hours each day making sure everything was going just right, that the garden was growing as we had intended it too. We pruned when we needed to, and cut where we had too. We made sure that the tender young plants growing in the rich deep soil had just the right amount of light, water and fertilizer to grow so that they might achieve their very best harvest.
Boy did they bloom. We were so proud. And we enjoyed the fruits of all our hard labor as well, many times over…
And then, after all the anticipation of spring, all the long hard hours put in making sure everything was right for harvest, in comes the heat and humidity of summer, in which we continued to enjoy the fruits of our labor, all the canning, picking, eating… but during this time, as we began to approach August and September, when the newness of all our work, when the anticipation of all our harvest, began to wear off, we let the weeds come in. We didn’t spend as many hours tending or caring, for you see, the garden appeared to be just fine, we were seeing results, gathering the fruits of our labor… but like I said, the weeds were slowly but surely returning, and since we were tired and worn out, weary, and since it was approaching the fall we figured what the heck, it’s okay that a few weeds appear, we can always pull them out later, when we have time, when we have the energy… just not now. Live and let live I always say.
Granted, our harvest has been good, and we definitely enjoyed all the fruits of our labor, and the seeds we had so carefully planted in our oh so perfectly tilled ground, had indeed grown, blossomed, become independent.
But that’s not the point, for as much as we did these things; we also let the weeds come in. We scaled back our time, to weed, to prune, to properly care for , so yes, everything might have appeared fine at the time, and we were still getting our harvest, but we were also satisfied with the slowing down of the plants, and if a few took disease or appeared to wither, then that was okay, after all, we’d already done our part, it was up to God and nature now to take care of everything else. After all, we can’t do everything, can we?
This possibly explains the lack of members setting in our church pews as well.
We start out with good intentions, revel in their growth as the seeds we have planted begin to stretch out, reach towards the sky. We water them carefully, tend to their needs, follow-up… and when they begin to produce the fruit we so desire, we celebrate with them… all the while thinking that we’ve done our part, we can put them on cruise control and just let them be the people they were meant to be. The Christians God intended them to be.
In other words… it’s okay if they grow a little weedy, if they seem a bit more wandering than usual. They are still doing okay, producing fruit and for the most part, staying green.
So what if they are a little brown around the edges…
There was another garden planted a long time ago, and the keepers of that garden also thought a few weeds, or a serpent, wasn’t all that bad, after all, things were going along just fine, fruit was being produced, their needs were being met, their bodies fed when in all reality, under their very noses, blight had entered their little kingdom, and instead of pruning or weeding, they let that blight continue to grow thinking nothing of it, until it was too late and they had to suffer the fruits of their own apathy.
It’s not just our job to till the soil, or fertilize it, and yes, we can enjoy the fruits of our passion and hard work and labor… but we didn’t do it all on our own either, God provided the sun and rain, the rich soil, and yes, even the seeds. In other words, he did all the hard part. All God ever expected of us was to be watchful, be goo d stewards. God expected us to weed and prune and tend his garden, to watch the fruits of his labor- to make sure that what he has planted doesn’t wither or blight.
It’s more than just bringing in new members. Sometimes that’s the easiest part. It only gets hard when the new wears off, and we don’t tend like we need to, or prune, or water, or watch over… until often times, it is too late, and the weeds have begun to invade and soil’s getting dried out.
It’s our job to make sure that what God has planted continues to grow.
Each and every one of us have a responsibility, and that responsibility never ends, never goes away… the gardeners are never too old or too frail or too tired or too busy to mind the harvest, because each one of us are in a garden of our own, and it is each our responsibility to watch over the others at all times, to care, to tend, and yes, to prune and weed when needed. Most of all, we have been asked to lovingly care for that which he has planted.
So don’t be like the workers in the vineyard, absent on the day of their lord’s return. And don’t be like the bridesmaids holding empty lamps when the groom desperately needed light. Tend to your garden, make sure it’s soil remains fertile, watch over, weed and prune when necessary… and when the time is right, when there has been enough sun clouds and rain, revel in the harvest that is sure to come and remember… our job as caretaker and gardener never ends, for the season of growth never ends.
All around us the fields are white and ready for harvest. All around us, a new season of planting and growth is beginning.
What have you done? Have you done your part? What are you going to do now?