Seasons of Growth
I’m not a gardener. I don’t have a green thumb. Yet, when you look at my garden, you might say, “Really? Really? No green thumb?!?” The truth is that I’ve been grafted into the green thumb club.
Both my husband and I have fathers who garden. Over the years we’ve tried to gather as many gardening skills as possible. Using the right tools, ideas on soil composition, and thoughts on fruit preservation have been part of our inheritance. The success of our garden doesn’t depend entirely on apprenticeship. Our garden went to the next level of success because of research. And of course God causes all things to grow. When the snow melts, we rent a roto-tiller and plow up the hardened ground, adding compost and fertilizer. We plant and harvest all spring and summer. In the fall, after frost, we harvest the last bits and rent the roto-tiller again, this time plowing the spent plants into the garden to compost all winter and feed next year’s garden.
Different Seeds, Different Times, Different Soils
Here’s what I want you to think about. A lush, fruitful garden doesn’t happen over night and it doesn’t happen all at once. It happens in stages. Different seeds are planted under different weather and soil conditions. Broccoli and cabbage are cold weather vegetables that are set in nitrogen rich soil long before the danger of frost is over. We planted our broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower during Spring Break, which falls during the last week of March. If we had waited till the weather warmed up, the broccoli would not have produced any florets. Broccoli bears under “harsh” conditions.
Two weeks later, we planted again — a different kind of seed. Radishes, lettuce, and spinach are also cold weather vegetables but they prefer sandy soil. Too much nitrogen and the leaves will “burn up.” Who wants brown lettuce? Not I! The proper amount of fertilizer and water is important for healthy growth. We planted half of the seeds in the packet because these plants will stop producing early and once again thrive in the the fall.
Two weeks later, we planted again. This time, once a week, for 4 weeks I planted one row of bean seeds. Staggering the planting helps manage the effort required at harvest time. Planting the seeds at the correct depth prevents the black birds from eating them.
The weekend after Mother’s Day, we planted again. This time, it was tomatoes. I love tomatoes. A cold vine-ripened tomato sandwich on a hot day is as refreshing to me as a steaming plate of pasta with marinara sauce on a cold day. Now if I had planted tomatoes when I planted everything else, the poor plants would’ve died. Tomatoes need warm temperatures to grow and produce fruit.
Why would I ramble on about how to plant a garden? What does this have to do with anything “spiritual”? Notice I didn’t plant all the seeds at once. God doesn’t transform our lives in the same way that Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother magically and immediately transformed her situation. Usually He will urge us to follow Him in one area or to forsake one sin at the time. At certain times, we will be making progress in one area and at other times another area. By contrast, during certain seasons, God will “plow up” our hearts, seemingly taking away everything that we have, preparing our hearts for another season of growth. God will identify areas of our life that aren’t producing fruit. If you have identified multiple sins to deal with, I would encourage you to find a mentor to help you prioritize and navigate the path of healing and repentance. Ask for God’s strength and power found through the “washing of the word” of God to transform you each day. Allow the Holy Spirit to work the garden of your heart. God will cause fruit to come to bear in the proper season so that you can reap a harvest of righteousness.
by Heather Soukup, Director of Women’s Ministries