Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. Genesis 2:15
Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; and you will eat the plants of the field; By the sweat of your face you will eat bread, Genesis 3:17-19a
I love working in my garden. It depicts our lives in the world in many ways. For example, I’ve noticed that weeds, like vices, don’t require planting. Like fleas on a hound dog, they just come. Furthermore, if I neglect the garden for even a short time, the weeds take over. Likewise, if I neglect my relationship with the Lord, even for a short time, sin and selfishness take over.
Desirable plants, like my walk with the Lord, must be purposefully planted, carefully cultivated, and faithfully nurtured if the plants—and my life–are to produce fruit.
If I don’t water the garden, the desirable plants wilt, but the weeds thrive! When I don’t “water” my life continually with the truth of God’s Word, my walk with the Lord “wilts,” and sinful self thrives. John 4:14
Finally, I realized that my first garden was too ambitious: Planting a half-acre of fruits and vegetables, I bit off more than I could chew, so to speak, and set myself up for failure. Discouraged by my inability to keep this extensive garden weed-free, I was tempted to give up.
I learned two life lessons from that experience. First, God’s good is the enemy of God’s best. If I try to take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself, rather than prayerfully considering when to say “yes” and when to say “no,” I can easily overextend myself and end up frustrated, engaged in much activity with little eternal result. As our pastor has said, I must know my purpose, or I will live aimlessly.
Secondly, I learned that the garden does not have to be 100% weed free to be fruitful. Upon first glance at the garden, it may appear that my labor has been in vain, for the weeds seem to dominate. Closer examination, however, reveals that the carefully tended plants have been tenaciously holding their own and are bearing fruit.
In life, too, it sometimes appears that my diligent effort to walk with the Lord and to make a difference in my world has been in vain, for sin and evil seem to dominate, both in my personal life and in the world. I am learning, on the other hand, that just as a garden doesn’t have to be totally weed-free to be productive, every little detail does not have to be “just so” for a project to be effective.
I take heart from my garden plants: they don’t use the weeds as an excuse to give up, but, instead, tenaciously hold on and bear fruit in the midst of the weeds. I must do the same.
About the Writer:
Cheryl Smith is a Jew, redeemed by Messiah Jesus, Whom she has followed since Tuesday, February 8, 1977 @ 5:05 p.m. A retired Marble Falls ISD teacher, she lives in Dallas with her mostly-homebound mother. Cheryl is a member of the Morning Son Sunday School class at First Baptist Church Dallas.