Perhaps I'm exceptionally eccentric (this is quite probable, however I will leave you to your personal conclusions) but especially as the earth warms I get an irresistible urge to have dirty fingernails! Startling statement? Well, do you ever just want to play in the dirt?
Maybe the roots for this instinctive desire reach back to my earliest memories of toddling about our family garden. Maybe this is why I find that gardens have a grounding affect on my faith. Something about the damp earthy scent, the cool rough soil between my toes and fingers, and the prospect of each potential-filled seed to sprout up into the sunshine.
A few evenings ago I meandered my way off campus for a much needed study break, and I happened to walk past the home of a pleasant couple with the most beautiful gardens. They were both out working together in the duskiness of the twilight hour. I almost walked past, but felt God nudging me to talk with them… after my short-lived protests; 'but I don't know them' 'this is weird' ext. I walked over and asked if there was anything I help with.
Our conversation was simple and quite common. He offered me a package of pole beans to plant, kindly letting me finish the row, and water the newly planted seeds and small flowers. A comfortably subdued peace settled into my soul as I nudged the little seeds into the dirt, praying for Gods blessing of life to spring up within each one.
Watching the water soak into the soil, I smiled to myself at the ironic spiritual implications of planting seeds in the garden of a stranger, who was no longer a stranger.
The world is Gods garden, and what a privilege it is to work along side Him! He hands us packages of seeds (labeled love, joy, peace ext.) and kindly allows us to "help" plant them in the hearts of the people we meet. In the process of planting our own sense of purpose is deepened and peace pervades our beings.
God promises a haven of security for those who trust Him, a place of nurture and growth…
"They shall dwell safely, and no one shall make them afraid. I will raise up for them a garden of renown, they shall no longer be consumed with huger in the land, nor bear the shame of the Gentiles anymore. Thus they shall know that I, the Lord their God, am with them, and that they, the house of Israel, are My people," says the Lord God." Ezekiel 34:28-30
Our churches should be like a "garden of renown", a secure and nurturing place where spiritually starving and shame-filled people can begin to live again – and truly flourish!
The gospel commission to go and make disciples is really a call to get dirty!
We are commissioned to get down on our knees in the dirt of this world, to plant seeds of "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control."
We are reminded to praise God for every measure of growth for "Neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God's fellow workers." 1 Corinthians 3:7,8
So don't be afraid to enter the garden (life) of a stranger! Seek to sow the seeds for the fruits of the Spirit, and have patience – the promised harvest will come with blessings pressed down and running over!
Get on your knees in the dirt of the world and prayerfully plant peace into the hearts of those suffering around you.
Believe me – you will find that working in Gods' garden has a grounding effect on your faith and your joy will multiply exponentially!