Vegetable Garden Blues


Has your garden failed to produce after hours of labor: preparing the soil, planting, watering, hoeing, and weeding? Join my 2012 garden club and we can weep together.

I don’t know what was different this year from past years. My garden was rototilled and fertilized with organic fertilizer. Plants and seeds were purchased from the same farm store I use every year; planted about the same time (early-June).

The garden was watered when it didn’t rain, weeded and hoed semi-faithfully, and prayed-over a lot. There is usually a good return by now from some of my vegetable plants; so far this season – zilch.

My garden has been attacked by “critters”(a porcupine, deer, and a groundhog), bugs (some to eat the plants and others to eat the bugs that eat the plants) and weeds. I fought bravely to protect the garden, erected a makeshift fence, prepared and sprayed a natural bug killer, planted marigolds on the edges, spread critter repellent around the perimeter of the garden, and finally set a humane critter-trap – all to no avail (except for the trapped porcupine).

A garden takes lots of work – especially organic gardens. And some years it takes more work than others.

Working in the garden this year made me think about the Master Gardener – the one who works the garden of our hearts. He must have some fairly unproductive years, too. Mostly due to the condition of the soil.

First He has to prepare the soil: at just the right time, His plow-cuts the hardened ground and loosens it up so that it can receive the fertilizer and the seeds. The preparation of the soil can take years, depending on what has formed the ground of our lives – it’s usually a mixture of our life experiences, the deposits in our hearts from human relationships, personal encounters, and “stuff” that happens to us.

Then comes the fertilizer – which, strangely, is made from those same life experiences.  Good times and bad times; successes and failures; joys and sorrows; fulfilled dreams and disappointments, which God turns into compost when we commit them into His hands; aged, decayed, rotted things that He uses to enrich the soil, getting the most out of the mixture to produce the best fruit in us.

This is what is referred to in Romans 8:28:

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

Seeds are scattered into the soil through other people, things we read, view, and listen to; and in those silent thoughts relayed to us from the mind of the Master Gardener as we learn to be still and listen for His voice.

Then the Holy Spirit draws up water from the well inside us that never runs dry and irrigates our garden, causing the seeds to germinate. As the plants begin to pop up through the soil, the Son shines His light on them and over time fruit begins to form.

It’s all His work, not ours – until the weeds, bugs and critters appear in the garden He’s cultivating. It’s then that we participate in the work. The soil of the fallen human nature will bring forth all kinds of weeds, briars and creeping vines which have to be uprooted.

The easiest to remove are the vine plants; they twist and curl themselves around us and strangle or suck life from us if they are not caught early on. Their roots are not very deep, but it requires time to untangle them. They are like the thorny plants mentioned in Jesus’ parable about the seed and the soil in Matthew chapter 13 – which choke out the produce that has begun to grow. Just like our daily irritations and concerns which often choke out the spirit-fruit in the garden of our hearts.

Other weeds in my backyard garden are easily removed, having only shallow, surface roots. But there are a couple different kinds of weeds which have deep, thick roots, often 4 or 5 inches long. I have to dig them out with a trowel. If I don’t, the weeds keep growing back.

In our heart-soil, there are also weed roots that have been growing for a long time; they penetrate very deeply into our soil. Past hurts often leave deep wounds into which these roots bury themselves. Un-forgiveness toward others, ourselves, and God, causes those weeds to grow and keep coming back.

We often need help from our Master Gardener and fellow believers to help us dig out these deeply imbedded roots. If we don’t get rid of them, not only will they inhibit our spiritual growth, but will cause problems for others around us.

Hebrews 12:15 says: “See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”

And then, the bugs and critters that invade our spirit-garden, like the “birds of the air” in Matt. 13:4, swoop into the garden of our hearts and snatch away the seed, which the parable in Luke 8:11 defines as “the word of God”.  Jesus defines those “birds” as “the evil one” (Matt. 13:19) or “Satan” (Mark 4:15). These demonic thoughts from the spirit-world attempt to destroy the spiritual seed that is germinating in us. It’s important to hold onto the word of God as it comes to us in its various forms – letting it nourish our souls.

There is a contrast in Galatians 5 between the garden left to itself and the one that is cultivated by the Master Gardner, Jesus:

  • Gal. 5:19-21: the produce of the flesh:

“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

  • Gal. 5:22- 23: the fruit of the Spirit

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

My prayer for those who want to live a life full of spiritual fruit (and for myself) is found in Philippians 1:9-11:

“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”

How’s your garden doing? Need help from the Master Gardener? He’s just a prayer and a surrender away.

©2012, Marcy Alves

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About Marcy

I love my Father-God. Together we are walking through a season of my life where I am standing with him against cancer. He is my strength and trust. As one of his daughters, my passion is to share his love with others in practical, everyday illustrations and insights.

Posted on August 2, 2012, in Christian Growth, Follow Me, God Encounters, My Journey, Reflections, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Even though you are not seeing the “fruit” of your labor in your garden,
    it is so evident through your posts, that God is using you to plant in the garden of peoples hearts!

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