Spring is finally here! And at church, with this new season, we welcome Orenco Community gardeners back to our property, and we clean up and replant our own gardens. One of my favorite things about our church is the sharing and trading of produce happening in our narthex and hallway in the spring and summer. Community gardeners often leave their excess for church members and other visitors to have. And many of you bring extra produce from home, to share with your friends. We go home with healthy, delicious food and minister to one another this way.
We recently prepared our garden for this season. Our twins have to work on personal projects in first grade, which is a lengthier assignment that then is exhibited at a school event. Sammy’s choice was to clean up and plant our garden. This weekend, Sammy and I found our garden gloves and headed outside to begin, in between occasional rain showers. Our first task was to pull all of the weeds. We hadn’t kept up with this task, so our little garden was a bounty of thorny, prickly weeds! After we pulled the weeds, we went through the old soil many times, to get at the roots left behind. Then, Brian and Sammy got new, rich soil, poured it on top and continued to prepare the soil for new growth, by mixing this healthy soil into what was already there. When Sammy planted seeds and plants, he knew these vegetables had a much higher likelihood of thriving because of all of the careful work he had done.
Jesus, who loved to teach in parables, often used the analogy of gardening and sowing seeds. In Mark 4, he taught from the Parable of the Sower, and explained that seeds sown among thorns yield nothing. “… The cares of the world, and the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things come in and choke the word …” (4:19). Buried underneath all of the weeds in our garden, we found bulbs that did not flourish and two other plants trying to hang on, while being shaded and overtaken by these wild, thorny plants. Of the three dangers Jesus lists, which do you struggle with most? Worries, concerns, and anxieties of the world; the desire and temptation of wealth; or a lust for other things? We would think in Jesus’ explanation these seeds sown that are choked bear little, but in fact, he explains, they bear nothing! But those sown on the good soil, “they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit; thirty and sixty and a hundredfold” (4:20).
Unfortunately, after all of our hard work in our garden, Sammy and I will find that our work is not done. Weeds will still spring up, even as our plants have a chance to grow. And in time, we may need to dig through for more roots of these thorny plants and fertilize the soil and do many other things in order to maintain a healthy garden. Likewise, as I examine my life and my days and ask the Lord to create in me a clean heart (Psalm 51:10), I will need pruning, my heart will need cultivating, and only God can continue to transform me. This is something I have to commit to with Christ each and every day.
This season, let God renew you and cultivate your heart. As those weeds spring up, turn to Him again and again. He is the One who created us and sustains us. To God be our thanks. Amen.