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A Little Dirt Never Hurt

It's time to do some spring gardening. For some reason all of the dead leaves from the entire neighborhood wind up in my butterfly garden. It serves as an extra layer of protection during the worst of the winter months. But this time of year, I need to go out and get rid of them.

I can't move them with a garden rake, because somewhere underneath all of that deadness springs up the fresh new and tender growth of springtime. I'll spread an old towel, sit right down in front of it all, and gently rake those old leaves out into my yard with my fingers. And I get so happy when I see those baby plants peeking out of the soil like a promise. A promise from God. Life comes forth again out of the gloomy death of winter. And I think of how it's that way with my own life.

Gardening does me so much good. I used to have a friend who lived in the neighborhood. Well, I still have the friend, but he no longer lives in my neighborhood. :) Anyway, he would sometimes drive by in the evening when I would be sitting in the dirt, working out in the yard. He would honk his horn and wave. We worked together, and he would see me at school the next morning. After we exchanged greetings for the new day, he would always add with a wink, "Saw you in therapy last night." He knew me well. I wonder what the other staff members thought that meant.

But it is so true. Gardening is therapy. It gives me time alone with God. There's a special kind of praying that I do there in the garden. On my knees, prayer is serious and structured, often with a list so I don't forget things. Prayer throughout the midst of the day seems to come more in the form of short messages to God; things and people that God brings to mind as I go about the business of my life. There are other places and kinds, of course. But prayer in the garden is somehow the least formal of all places. It's more like a casual chat, where He walks with me, and He talks with me, just like we sing about. And He truly does tell me that I am His own. Not like a King afar off. But like my Daddy. Loving and sweet. God meets me in the garden.

I've never had much use for garden gloves. I try, but they always come off in a minute or two. How often I've found a stray glove mixed in with those dead winter leaves, left over from the last warm days of fall. But I have a need to feel the soil with my fingers. I need my sense of touch to determine just how firmly I should pull to get that weed up by the roots, leaving nothing behind. I need to get right down in the heart of it all. I wonder how many times God has spoken to me about something specific, sitting there in the midst of my garden. Too many times to number.

Working with those baby spring plants reminds me of my grandma, and sometimes I can almost feel her near me as I work. She taught me that gentle touch with the tender growth, and I realize that she was teaching me much more than gardening when I sat with her in the soil as a child. I've come to understand that these same fingers knew how to lightly brush the wisps of hair away from my children's faces on a breezy day, and that same gentle touch was what my kids came running for when they had had their hearts broken at school. The love shown in that touch could make the pains of life go away, and I had learned it right there in the garden.

And then, the thought that caused this garden rambling. This morning I read John 15:5. "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit." I love this thought. I can see it so clearly. I grow in my yard strawberries and blueberries, just like my grandmother before me. They don't grow on vines, but I am acquainted with fruit. I do have morning glories, and they grow on vines. I can make the stretch.

A fruit bearing vine. Jesus is the vine, and I am the branches. I would be dead if removed from Him. Thankfully, that's not possible. He is the source of my life and breath. He supports me and feeds me. He prunes back the deadness and removes from me what He doesn't want in my life. I've learned to trust Him and try to not even look as He prunes. He knows best. I cannot think like Him. His ways are past finding out. And I want to be in the best shape ever for bearing fruit. So I submit. And He knows how to prepare this branch for His purpose.

I left out the last part of the verse. Because it needs to stand alone in my thoughts. I want to hug it to my heart all day long. It's the reason for the illustration about the vine and branches and fruit. It brings tears if I really think on it.

"For without me ye can do nothing"! The explanation mark added by me. :)

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