Growing With Your Garden
(Just as Jesus offered lessons from the natural world, we find gardening has spiritual lessons for us today. (C) 2005, Kathryn Terrell Search)
Christians are thankful for their gardens. Food comes from gardens, and we appreciate the flowers, trees, and other plants the Creator provided for us in His great wisdom. The Lord chose to give to mankind plants for a multitude of purposes: to save lives, to build homes, and to provide bodily nutrients. The actual list of plant uses is almost endless.
Plants are valuable, we don’t doubt it. But God gave us plants and gardens for another reason. He intended for us to receive spiritual lessons–to acquaint us with His character, and to help us understand His purpose for our lives.
Christ’s parables often illustrate through gardening practices and plants. For example, we read of the sowing of the seed, the barren fig tree, the lily of the valley, the growth of grain, the vine, and the bearing of sour grapes. What beautiful truths we find in these illustrations! Though Bible parables are invaluable to searchers of truth, since most Christians have studied these, we’d like to add more to the list instead of going over the same stories again.
Any good teacher knows the value of pictures in educating the mind. And writers constantly use anecdotes, examples, and graphic illustrations to put their points across. Today’s gardening practices are not exactly new. Many have been around for centuries, and some since the beginning of the world. The spiritual lessons are many and any one off us could add to what we will attempt to cover now.
Mulching and Composting
Some people seem to think mulching and composting are the same. There is a difference. When you mulch a garden you blanket it between plants and in paths with any kind of material you choose. This could be compost, hay, leaves, or plastic, paper, old rugs. The purpose is to keep the ground a few degrees cooler or warmer (depending on the season), retain moisture in the soil, and keep weeds under control.
Compost provides nutriments and humus for the soil and plants. Organic mulch will slowly break down and provide these factors too. The contents of the mulch or compost determine whether your plants receive a balanced and continual diet of everything they need for good growth.
Mulch provides a valuable covering. Thus, we need a covering of Christ’s righteousness, and when we have it, the Holy Spirit works continually to give us the water of life and the proper spiritual elements as we require them. Take that covering away and we will dry up, just as the ground often does without mulch. Not only that, weeds can choke out the good plants, steal away their food and water supply, shade them from needed sun, and sometimes even poison them.
A pile of actively working organic matter is compost in-the-making. Such a pile is hot to the touch in the center. Soil micro-organisms are busy converting it to compost and humus. Air needs to be circulated throughout the pile by means of tossing and turning, through the use of pipes or dividers or a barrel-type tumbler. For fast results the pile must receive enough water and aeration, plus a fairly correct ratio between carbon and high nitrogen materials.
Teamwork and balance are characteristics we need to develop. And a compost heap is representative of this. Compost is valuable only as it has the proper materials for promoting growth and fruitage in plants. When we place chemical fertilizers into the soil we could possibly do damage. Too much of one nutriment can cause a plant to bear leaves and little or no fruit, or vice-versa. What’s good for one may not be the best for the other. Some fertilizers may burn plant roots and chemicals may kill valuable soil organisms. One fine thing about well-made compost: it’s a balancer. It helps provide a proper PH (not too acid or alkaline) for plants and has a good ratio of NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium).
How are compost and the Bible alike? If we study the Scriptures with prayer and humility, we will gain everything we need for growing more like Jesus. The bible provides the truth we need, and the Holy Spirit (like water) gives us understanding and the power to use it properly. Just as the organic materials submit to the micro-organisms and allow them to make the change needed, thus we submit ourselves to God as we study His word, so that He can change us and make us of use in ministering to others.
From another point of view, the organisms unknowingly do what they need to do. We end up with rich, dark material to mix with the soil and feed the plants. Have you ever seen the dark humus under the leaves in a forest or walked on peat moss? If we do all that God commands in His word, we may not be aware of accomplishing much. But teamwork will be apparent, as the Holy Spirit works with each one of us to accomplish the work of God on this earth. One single Christian will be nothing in His own eyes (as are the tiny organisms in the compost heap and soil), but it’s the teamwork under the direction of the Spirit that counts.
We could liken the Holy Spirit to both water and air. Plants need a constant supply and so do we. Water carries nutriments to the plants through soil full of spaces or tunnels. Complicated processes activate the soil every moment, and life and death constantly go on. Giving and taking is a law of nature ever in motion. Minerals are carried to root systems, and rotting matter releases plant food.
Also the Holy Spirit is busy in our lives. When we are cooperative and cultivate our heart’s soil, we allow God’s grace and power to permeate through us. When we trust in Him to guide our lives, and depend on Him only, we allow the moisture of God’s Spirit to do its work within us
Many are the lessons to be found in garden practices. Daily, we need the spiritual food he supplies for us, just as we need the produce of the garden for our physical food. May God bless us as we look for ways to grow more like our Saviour.####