I’m the kind of person who gets annoyed at the fact that grass grows after you cut it. Or that beds must be made every time you use them.
There’s just something about tasks that never end that somehow sullies my good mood.
Yet I’ve still had a garden for the past few years.
And despite my daily forgetting that it exists, we’ve managed to grow some delicious food.
If not for my wife (who has grown fond of gardening) and my daughter (who has grown even more fond of eating every raspberry in sight), I would never have even kept an herb garden on a windowsill.
Still, I enjoy the bounty. And early in the season, my wife was out of town, so my daughter and I went out and picked our first cucumber of the season.
As soon as I saw the garden, I remembered it existed (funny how that works). While hastily watering the wilted, heatstroked plants, Willow spotted the cucumber.
“Do you want to pick it?” I said.
“The cucumber?” she said with a disbelieving smile.
“Yep. We could eat it right now, just like Satsuki and May.” (Two characters from her favorite movie, My Neighbor Totoro, who eat a cucumber fresh from a garden.)
She lit up, so I twisted the cucumber from its vine, and we chowed down.
If you’ve never had fresh vegetables picked ripe from the garden, you’re legitimately missing out. The vegetables (aka “lies”) they sell in Walmart suddenly seem like a joke. (Two of the worst offenders are tomatoes and berries.)
But all I could think about while we crunched cuke and smiled at each other was how much more thankful we should be for every bite of food that enters our mouths.
It’s by God’s will that farmers grow the wheat that he wills workers to form into bread that he willed to be sold at a store that he willed to be built just a few minutes from my home.
And he willed that I would make enough money to buy a loaf of bread and not worry about the cost, and to eat as much of it as I want without worrying whether my daughter will have enough.
None of this would happen outside of his kindness.
All of the good that we experience, from the joys of life to the simple absence of horrible potentials, comes from his kindness.
And the kindness of God, Scripture says, is meant to lead us to repentance.
It’s meant to lead us to live a different sort of life.
A life marked by thankfulness and a daily fruitfulness that itself is to be seen as a gift of God.
My kindness to my wife is a gift of God – a spiritual gift through the power of Christ’s blood and resurrection to free me from slavery to my own evil and to mitigate the impact of my inherently selfish nature on others.
God freely offers us freedom from simple vices.
Do we have the presence of mind to remember his garden of delight exists in our very own yard?
And do we thank him honestly, from our hearts, when we harvest the benefits of it?
Or do we just assume that we deserve its existence, or somehow are responsible for it?
God shows us that time spent with him is time spent in the true garden of delight.
The Psalmists continually speak about how God is a refuge for the weary, a delight to the hungry, and satisfying drink to the thirsty. All we need to be satisfied and changed by him is to spend time meditating on his goodness with hearts reaching out to enjoy his presence.
I’ve talked to several people who say they don’t experience this even when they try. But once pressed, it becomes clear they don’t dedicate themselves to extended time focused on God in this way.
Instead, their prayer time generally consists of asking God to bless their finances, keep them from sickness, etc.
That sort of prayer is important, but much of the work God does to change our hearts and minds happens not when we ask him for things, but rather when we meditate on who he is purely for the purpose of enjoying him and becoming more like him.
Christ offered his entire life to purchase our eternal worship and dedication. We can afford to spend at least a few minutes each morning focused on him.
When we think of taking care of a garden, we expect that it will take a significant time investment. It’s a life choice, to become involved with weeding and tending a garden.
In the same way, it is a life choice to become involved with letting God tend the garden in our hearts. It takes time. Every day, we meditate on him, letting him weed out the thoughts and desires that would stifle our fruitfulness. And he is faithful to remove them, so long as we put him ahead of other tasks in our lives.
If you feel you are in a spiritual dry period, dedicate yourself to spending at least twenty minutes each morning spent meditating on God’s goodness with your heart reaching out to him to enjoy and to be satisfied by his presence.
God will meet you, even in this short amount of time, and show you that he truly is like the father running to his prodigal child.
He longs to be with you in the garden of your own heart. Meet him there each sunrise, and let him satisfy you.
Lord, delight and satisfy us with your own person. Meet us in our distracted, harried days, and lead us into your rest. May you increase while we decrease. We surrender to your will. We dedicate a small portion of each morning to being with you, because you satisfy and fill us with peace and joy and the strength of your goodness. You are our beginning and end. Our treasure and joy. Thank you for your kindness and mercy! Amen.
Make it a habit to wake up twenty minutes earlier than you usually do, to go into a brightly lit room and sit in active meditative prayer like the Psalmist speaks of: “I have sought you with all my heart; don’t let me wander from your commands. I have treasured your word in my heart so that I may not sin against you. Lord, may you be blessed; teach me your statutes. With my lips I proclaim all the judgments from your mouth. I rejoice in the way revealed by your decrees as much as in all riches. I will meditate on your precepts and think about your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.” –Psalm 119:10-16