Tuesday, September 10, 2013

At the feet of the Master Gardener

There were a couple of spots in the flower beds that have been glaringly empty.  Poor plant choices coupled with lack of attention have resulted in crunchy dead stems and puny growth.

I sense a metaphor in the making, y'all.

I went to the local garden center and purchased a few pretty additions to my garden.  I set to work, pulling up the ugly dead bushes (nearly throwing my back out in the process!) and digging six large holes.

Well, at least I thought I would dig six holes.  Turns out the irrigation hasn't been doing a great job of watering and the sudden arrival of Summer when Autumn is trying to move in just made things worse.  I got my "World's Best Shovel" (yes, that is what the label says) and with a loud grunt stabbed at the dirt.

Notice I didn't say I dug into the dirt.

With a thunk the shovel bounced off of what felt like a brick.  I stood there, trying to form a strategy since the one I had was apparently going to be a dismal failure.  I picked up the water hose and turned it on, allowing it to sit and soak the area for a while before trying again.  The ground was so hard that the water literally pooled on top and took several minutes to even begin to absorb into the soil!  Finally, though, it did and I was able to dig a soggy hole in which to plant that pretty Autumn fern.  Over and over I repeated the process...clear off top layer of mulch, soak, then dig.  At last I had six new plants in place and the ugly stick bushes were literally kicked to the curb.

Then I noticed a pile of leaves littering the corner of the bed, around one of the dwarf magnolias.  I decided to rake the beds and get a head start on the Autumn cleanup.  As I raked, I became aware of weeds.  Lots of them. What the...?  When did they take over my pretty flower beds?  And when did the shrubs get so overgrown?  And look at the hydrangeas wilting...they look awful!  What must the neighbors think about my terrible gardening skills?

There is so much work that needs to be done and how am I ever going to get this all cleaned up?

Sound familiar?

This is what happens when I am not walking in the Spirit.  Suddenly I look at my home, my family, my flower beds, and I see all the problems at once.  I see the laundry piled up on the sofa, the board game left on the floor, the muddy paw-prints across the kitchen floor, the sink full of dirty dishes, the kids arguing, the history lesson that we forgot to finish, my face in the mirror sans makeup and eyes rimmed with dark circles of fatigue and it is all too much.

How am I ever going to get this all cleaned up?  When will I be efficient, have it together, and not be overwhelmed with the weeds popping up in every neglected area of my life?

But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary.  Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”  Luke 10:41-42

I sound just like Martha, looking at the growing "to-do" list and working myself into a tizzy.  Suddenly I am painfully unaware of the presence of the Lord because my focus has shifted to the myriad of things that demand my attention and I forget to seek Him first, to ask Him for help, to just be still and let Him do what He does best.

For the truth is, I will never get it all cleaned up.  There will always be dirty laundry.  There will always be dishes to clean.  There will always be dirty floors and weeds in my flower beds because I am a flawed woman living in a broken world.  If I think I have the wisdom, ability, or energy to get it all cleaned up then I am sorely mistaken.  Only Jesus, only the God who brings order out of chaos, who calls me to come and sit a while and let Him handle the things left undone can get it all cleaned up.  There will always be weeds in the neglected places, and I can either kill myself by trying to pull them all from the unforgiving, rock-hard soil or I can sit and soak in the living water of the Word of God.  

After all...

weeds are much, much easier to pull from soft, wet soil than from hard, dry dirt.

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