Jun 29, 2013

The Parable of the Sower

I have always loved the Parable of the Sower (click on the link if you haven't ready the parable in a while). I'm not exactly sure why I like it so much, maybe it's all of the analogies or maybe it's because Jesus says so much in such a few words.  Since I have had such a hard time getting my seeds to sprout and keeping the plants alive in the drought, my mind continually wanders back to this passage. 
 This is my thought pattern while tending my own garden:

"What an irresponsible farmer, just throwing seed around like that! Doesn't he know what a precious thing he has?!?" Then I hear Him say...he is scattering it because it is precious. BURN! The farmer wants everyone he comes in contact with to hear of God's great love, so he scatters it everywhere he goes. Then I have to ask myself, am I keeping my seed under lock and key? Or am I sharing it with all who will listen - "Who ever has ears to hear, let them hear."

Then I think about the seeds that fall on the rocky soil and into the weeds - both of which are problems in my gardening world. I think, "Man, that farmer has some good seed if it is going to sprout up everywhere it falls!" (we all know the problems I have had with seeds!) and then, "What kind of gardener would just let those seedlings die?" Since I had to coax my little seeds into life, those little plants are precious to me - they represent lots of invested time and work, so I am not about to let them die just because they are planted in the wrong place!

I had this tiny cayenne pepper plant that was the only survivor out of his batch. I planted him in a shady spot in the garden to protect him from the harsh tropical sun. As he started to grow, I realized that there were only leaves on the sunny side of the plant - his backside, if you will, was completely bare! I was afraid that the peppers would start growing on one side and the plant would break because of the one sided weight. What to do? Transplant! I moved the little guy to a sunny spot and now he has leaves all around and is blooming like there's no tomorrow. That has been a theme with a few of my struggling plants, I have had to transplant a few times to find the best spot for them.

This thought brought me to the passage in 1st Corinthians, where Paul is addressing the church and says that (paraphrasing) some people get to plant the seed, and some get to water it, but only God makes it grow - and that each person plays their part in the process, each person has their own purpose.

You see we all have jobs in this garden of a world, and it is very important that we find out what those jobs are - what our purpose is in the Kingdom. I personally think that there are many more jobs in the garden other than planting and watering - you have to pull the weeds, and treat the soil, you have to pick off the bugs, and make sure the plants are growing well. I guess the important part is finding out what your purpose in the garden happens to be - and maybe the more challenging aspect is that you could have different roles in different people's lives at different times in their life.

Sometimes, people need help being transplanted from their old life of sin into a healthy christian environment. That job has to be done at the perfect time, and with gentle loving-kindness not to damage their growing leaves and roots. They have to be watered immediately and tended closely so that they can survive the move. But once they set in, they will have what they need to grow deep roots and produce fruit of their own.

I think all too many times the seed sprouts and there is no one around to care for the tender little plant. It may start to grow up in the rocky soil or get choked out by the weeds of life, but it doesn't mean that the plant is any less precious to the Gardener!

I, for one, will start paying more attention to the which role I have in the lives of the people God has put in my garden. Should I water them? Should I feed them? Should I pull weeds (ouch!)? Should I transplant them? Always remembering that it is God that makes them grow, and that the actions I take should be guided by the Holy Spirit - not my own desire to rush their growth. It seems like such a difficult task, but so was starting a garden in my grass covered, rocky soiled, ant infested backyard! I am so glad we have the Holy Spirit to guide us through all of the challenges we face in life, let's just take them one day at a time! 

Jun 15, 2013

Prepare for the Rain

It has been very dry here lately. So dry, in fact, that any rain we do get is sucked up by the ground in a matter of minutes, and gives us no relief from the billowing dust clouds produced by the traffic on our dirt road. On a side note, we don't just have dirt on our dirt road - much of the traffic is actually cattle, horses, pigs, dogs and chickens - so when it's dusty, it's also a little more than dusty, if you get my drift.

Dry. Hot. Dusty.
Hot. Dusty. Dry.
Dusty. Dry. Hot.

Any way you slice it, we need some rain! Not only to keep the, ahem, dust down, but also to water my shriveling little garden. I have a feeling that when the seed packet said to plant my vegetables in full sun, they weren't talking about 12 degrees from the equator full sun.

You say..."Heather, just water them yourself, silly girl." And to that I say, "This month alone the water has been out of service for at least 10 days." I have resorted to using old rain water we caught in a bucket to keep things alive, but it's just not the same as fresh water; I think the plants can tell the difference.

I was outside trying to water everything with a bucket and a repurposed yogurt container, and I thought, "I should prepare for rain," Then somewhere deep in the cobwebs of my mind I remembered a story in the Old Testament about a drought, 2 Kings chapter 3. The prophet Elisha was told to go out and dig ditches, and that they would be filled with water. So in the blazing hot sun, covered in dust from the road, I dug some ditches. I carved out little channels for the water to flow throughout my garden, taking care not to disturb the shriveling plants. They needed water, but too much and they could drown or get washed away.

Now in the 2 Kings, there was no rain. God filled the ditches without using natural means. Everyone woke up the next day and the ditches were filled with water. That's not exactly how it went for me. About 2am we woke up to thunder and lightening and ... RAIN! Lots and lots of rain...the thunder was so loud and the lightening was so bright that it scared me at times. The rain was so heavy that I had to go check on the baby because I wouldn't have been able to hear him crying over the deluge.

Then I heard Mark say, "Why did you have to dig those ditches?!" And my reply was, "He told me to."

I am not exactly sure how to process all of that. I know that God is faithful to his word. I know that we should be obedient to him even when he asks us to do something that takes a lot of work and may seem a little silly at the time. I know that although his presence is refreshing it can be a little scary too - He is the Almighty God, Creator of heaven and earth, and deserves the reverence that comes with that.

Are there areas in your life where you need to dig some ditches? Do you need to be obedient even though what he asks of you requires you to get personally invested? Are you too worried about what other people will think of you? We should be challenged by Elisha's story, but also encouraged by God's faithfulness.