I have a black thumb. Give me a plant, and I will eventually kill it. I read magazines and gardening blogs. I ask people’s advice (the Home Depot gardening lady is sick of me, I’m sure). I pray heaven to open up and shine life on my meager horticultural attempts, but no dice. In fact, I can’t even grow wildflowers. WILD FLOWERS, people. It’s that bad.
So when I was thinking of the next series for this blog, and the word “gardening” came to mind, I laughed.
“What do I know about gardening? And what the heck does that have to do with life coaching??” I wondered.
As the words parted my lips, the answer overwhelmed me: “You know The Gardener.”
Thus begins a summer series that seeks to cultivate life like the best Gardener of all time. The one who plants, waters, tills, weeds, prunes, protects, and brings harvests in our lives. It’s a “Fruit of the Spirit” series for the gardening impaired. Because, really, aren’t all of us a little helpless in the garden of life at times?
The crop we’re looking to cultivate? “…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).
If we hope to have fruit like that, are we doing what’s needed to be ready and available for it?
Are you getting enough “sunlight”?
My first attempt at growing strawberries — the one in full sun — yielded a crop of dried-up deadness. Turns out they need partial sun to thrive. Other plants need different amounts of sunlight to grow strong. For the season of life and the particular kind of spirit-fruit God’s cultivating in each of us right now, our hearts need a certain kind and amount of light, too.
If Jesus is the “light of all mankind” (John 1:4), what kind of exposure to him do you need right now? Maybe it’s through music. Maybe prayer… or others praying over you. Maybe a little extra scripture reading, or posting truth around your house so you can read light throughout the day. Whatever type or amount of light your life needs, are you willing to make sure you’re getting it?
Are you getting enough “water”?
The wildflowers I mentioned earlier? They needed a little water every day (which I discovered after drowning them). You and I? We need a little every day too. Or maybe we’re more like rainforest plants and we need a whole lot every day. Scripture speaks of living water that quenches the deep thirst of our hearts (see John 7:38-39). Are you giving this water — God’s Spirit — a place in your life? For a lot of us, life watered with the Holy Spirit can seem scary. It’s unfamiliar, untamed. But trying to live ignoring him is attempting to live and produce fruit in parched soil. Are you open to, and seeing this fresh “water” in your life?
Are you letting God adjust the “soil” in your life?
When I first started planting seeds in my yard, I found a bunch of rocks about 6 inches under the soil. “Stupid rocks!” I thought, as I removed them to a pile on one side. And there were a LOT of them. It was like someone had intentionally put them there in a thick layer beneath the soil. “Stupid people!” I thought. Then, after drowning the wildflowers… I realized the rocks were there to provide drainage. Another gross feature of soil, slimy worms and bugs, tilled it so it could have air.
In our lives, God’s allowed rocks, slimy stuff, and creepy-crawlies that benefit us too. They somehow let the air and water and nutrients in, and let them circulate. They’re part of the “all things” that God says work toward good in our lives (Romans 8:28). Are we willing to take a second look at the tough stuff — the rocky, slimy places in our lives — and give them a chance to be a gift and a help?
What would you love to see flourishing in your life or heart this summer (and beyond)?