Life and Death in the Garden

It’s out in the garden I find life—tomatoes so beautiful and heavy they push over in their flimsy cages, cucumbers plush and delicious additions to every meal, a variety of peppers, and an aroma of herbs.  There are random holes here and there from a curious chipmunk looking for tender shoots on which to dine.  Insects crawl in the rich dirt and on the plants, startling and repulsing me.

I also find death—wilted branches with their leaves turning yellow as they are drained of life, blossom rot on the vine plants for fruit that will never be, fallen tomatoes trampled into the soil by my careless feet,   and leftover flowers being choked to death by weeds.

No wonder the garden has become so symbolic for it is a metaphor of the lifecycle should we have eyes to see.

As I sit on my gardening stool, rearranging the tomato branches within their cages, it strikes me how the the burden of their fruit overwhelms  the plants breaking branches, dropping fruit, and causing them to topple into one another like dominos.

I have been like the tomato plant—full of fruit I wanted to use for God, but too overwhelmed to use it, too burdened to give it away for His glory.  I wanted the glory for myself; I wanted to show the fruits of my labor.  Instead, I fell and how great the fall!  With open hands, I give the glory to the One who is above all.

I pull up weeds which had overtaken sections of the garden, even growing up over the stone walkway.  I claw at them trying to pull up each root.  I grab a hand rake and chopped at their stems.  If only my cilantro or oregano had grown like these hardy weeds…

I have been like the weeds.  My heart believes the lies that so easily grow over the clear path God has given me.  Instead of what is true, I follow the false path for I cannot find the way until I unseat the vines I have made truth.  I am tangled and suffocating.  I rip them up with a new fervor, refusing to be ensnared by lies again

The lettuce has turned bitter due to the summer heart.  I think about inviting the rabbits in to taste it.  Perhaps refrigeration will help.  If not, we will pick this cool weather crop in the fall.

I have been like the lettuce—looking beautiful on the outside, holding onto bitterness on the inside.  Taste me and I will leave a terrible taste in your mouth.  I surrender the bitterness to God, giving each leaf to Him.  I offer names, covering those who have wronged me in forgiveness, being filled with gratitude for grace.

Carefully, I investigate the vines looking for cucumbers, zucchini, watermelon, and cantaloupe.  The cucumbers—my favorite vegetable—are growing well.  The zucchini has come back after a terrible case of blossom rot.  A small watermelon is finally forming and a cantaloupe will be ready soon.

I am like the vine plants, growing and multiplying in God.  He is the vine and I am the branches.  I will abide in Him and grow much fruit.  Apart from Him, I can do nothing.  I look at the cucumber smashed by my stool.  Apart from the vine, it is lifeless.  I toss it in with the rest of the plant debris.  I will no longer pull myself away from the source of Life.

As I turn to close the garden gate, I feel a sense of satisfaction, knowing that weeding, pruning, and picking are divine activities.  My dirt caked arms and feet are the mark of the Master, showing how I’ve spent time with Him.  And I smile, thankful for this lesson from God.

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