I'm definitely not a gardener.
I would like to be and probably could be with some effort. But that's the crux of it right there.
Being a good gardener requires effort and I don't have, no- wait, I'm not willing to devote effort to that endeavor at the moment.
But with that said, I can see why so many of Jesus' parables in the bible were based on gardening.
Even though I have more of a purple thumb instead of a green one, the Lord spoke to my heart using our "garden" (I use that term loosely) as an illustration.
As most of you know, Nana and Papa (my parents) live right next door.
Between our two backyards and our two bird feeders, we have the "club scene" of the winged world in our neighborhood. In other words, we get lots and lots of birdy visitors.
Because of all that activity, we have lots of sunflowers that pop-up right underneath the feeders.
There is a funny thing about these particular sunflowers-- each plant has multiple heads on it.
There are lots of bright, blooming blossoms all over and boy it sure looks impressive.
Just across the way, in the raised bed, is a lone sunflower plant. It hasn't bloomed yet and it "looks" a little behind...
But as I contemplated these plants the Lord spoke to my heart...
about deep abiding and fruitfulness.
The plants with lots of blooms all together look impressive but none of those many heads will produce any significant "fruit" or seeds.
It is a picture of busy, "Christian" works that look good from the outside yet produce little, if any, lasting fruit.
It was a reminder for me to be very careful of how I invest my time. There are lots of "good" things to do and be involved in like making meals for families that are sick, volunteering to organize this and participate in that. There are book clubs, home school groups, and countless bible studies that are all good.
But, there is also the very best.
The very best is God's will for me and my family at any given moment.
When I am in the center of God's perfect will (and not just dancing within God's permissive will) I can be sure that He will produce the greatest abundance of fruit in my life.
And honestly, it has been my experience that God's perfect will usually involves a significant amount of laying down of my will, my rights, my expectations and my carnal desires.
Running off to a group bible study is often easier than faithfully caring for my home or my family.
Don't get me wrong-- there is a time for group bible studies. It is something I have enjoyed and has been used by the Lord to produce good fruit in my life.
But I also know there are times when He doesn't give me peace about attending and He directs me to invest my time into the three little "plants" that are a son and daughters.
(Even when His will and investing in my kids mean neglecting my physical house and doing something completely out in left field like helping a certain daughter to make a movie even though it means little sleep, unexpected expenses and the discomfort of filming in 107˙heat. But I digress...)
He reminded me that being fruitful in Him often means willing to be set apart or sanctified.
I have to be willing to not follow the crowd and be willing to "miss out" on what the world offers in order to receive what He has for me.
Am I willing to seek out "better soil" if it means standing alone?
Even though that lone solitary plant doesn't look too impressive right now, we can be sure that at the time of harvest it will produce ample, good fruit because it is able to grow deep roots.
And if you feel like you don't "look" very impressive-- perhaps you're a stay at home mom with permanent Goldfish cracker stains on your clothes-- you can be sure that when your works are tried in the fire (1 Corinthians 3: 12-14) you will receive a reward.
May we be a people that abide in the true Vine (John 15:1-11) and bear much fruit for the glory of God and our hearts full of joy.
By Your Spirit may we abide in You, being watered by Your perfect Word. May we obediently allow You to pluck the weeds from our lives and trust You to produce good, eternal fruit.
Help us to know and trust that You know the very best for us and for Your kingdom. Strengthen us to be a people that obey--even when we don't understand the "how" and the "why" of what You call us to do.
May we praise Your name, in faith and in trust, before we see the fruit You promise.