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Green Thumbs and Growing Hearts

When my siblings and I were little, my Mom used to make us pull weeds with her in the summer. We have two long flower garden beds in our front yard, and we would divide the gardens into five sections so that each of us kids would have an equal amount to pull weeds. Despite my mother’s instructions, we weren’t very thorough. We’d just pull the top portion of the weeds and then most of the roots would stay in the ground, only producing more weeds within a week or two. But then one time, we had an older lady friend of ours come over and she showed us how to properly weed a garden. She demonstrated that you need to take a spade and dig deep into the dirt, remove all traces of roots and weeds, and then mix and turn the soil until it’s loose and luscious. It took a lot more effort to dig through the dirt, but once I had tried this method several times I realized the amazing difference it made in the garden.

Presently it’s just my parents and I living at home and over the past few years I’ve taken over the two front gardens. It’s strangely addicting. I find it a little boring and tedious to weed and dig through the garden, but the immediate results are very pleasing. There’s also something great about digging through the earth and making things look beautiful. The loveliest part of gardening is choosing which flowers to plant every year and watching them grow and bloom all summer. There are certain perennials that come up every year and are a standard staple in my gardens. But every year I choose new annuals that will only last the season and I enjoy having a slightly different garden every year. Of course, gardening isn’t a one-time job. It takes diligence to keep up with returning weeds all summer and to make sure the garden is watered enough. I often slack off after a few weeks and soon enough a big weeding session is needed.

It has occurred to me that our hearts are a lot like gardens. Jesus is the best gardener. When we allow him, he is so patient with us and thoroughly works through different areas of our hearts, removing unhealthy weeds and debris, one area at a time. Sometimes the way that I experience God pulling out “weeds” in my life, is when I unexpectedly remember a painful memory which needs healing or a person comes to mind that I need to forgive. Sometimes I discover a new layer of sin and weakness that needs attention and change. It can be difficult to allow God to work on these areas, but he is a gentle gardener and over time we will see the beauty from this work.

As the master gardener, God also plants flowers in the garden of our hearts. Each of us has a different garden and God will plant the flowers that best suit us. In my own life, I see flowers as gifts, abilities, or strengths that God gives us. Sometimes these beautiful flowers are only for a time (like annuals). Others are like perennials that are lifelong strengths God has given us. Just like we can’t see the growth of flowers and plants until they are above the ground, sometimes we can’t see the growth that his happening until God reveals it to us.

Imagine a gardener that doesn’t ever leave the garden. That is the way God is with us. He is so attentive to our hearts and our growth. Like a garden, our hearts never stop needing work and attention. He never tires of working in us and helping us grow. A gardener can also just sit and enjoy the beauty of his work. I like to think that God often just sits in our hearts and enjoys us.

Click above for a song for reflection.

I invite you to contemplate Jesus as a gardener. What kind of gardener do you see him as in your life? What kind of “weeds” do you think he’s wants to gently remove and will you let him? What are the ways he’s making you bloom? Are you comfortable to let him sit and enjoy you?

“"And the LORD will continually guide you, and satisfy your desire in scorched places, and give strength to your bones; and you will be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.” -Isaiah 58:11

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