by John Armstrong
Spring is officially here, we are past the Equinox and even though the mornings are still cold, the temperatures are slowly beginning to creep up. This is the time of year when I begin to realize that once again I’m behind on getting my garden beds prepared. This year, I need to do some extensive soil enrichment work to get them ready. I’m late getting started, but, I’m not discouraged because no matter what I do, the final-results are as always in the hands of the Lord. I do need to be faithful to provide good soil (which He created) and water, etc., but He is the one who makes things grow. One of the things I love about gardening, which I’ve mentioned before, is the spiritual aspects of it. When I’m down on my knees pulling weeds, I never fail to see how that relates so readily to my own life. My life has weeds that need to be pulled and thrown away. No matter how diligently I work at clearing them all out, sure enough tomorrow there will be new ones springing up. Not only do you have to contend with the weeds, which I see as representative of sin in our lives, you also have bugs to deal with which I see as temptations and attacks from outside that threaten to ruin and destroy. Primarily, there is the soil, which we often tend to take for granted and I liken that to the spiritual condition of our heart. Spiritual growth is a lot like gardening, there are always challenges, but the benefits of participating in the process of bringing forth fresh fruits and vegetables is worth it to me. Spiritually speaking, we are participating in bringing forth spiritual fruit. So, why am I writing this to you now? I’m wanting to encourage you in your Christian walk and using the metaphor of gardening is a way of doing that which will connect with some of you. I’m currently preaching through Matthew 5 which contains the first parts of the Sermon on the Mount and one of the main themes you find there is all about religion being a matter of the heart. External religion is of no value if it does not originate in and flow from a heart that is right before the Lord. How is your heart? Is it ready for seed? Will it nourish the plant that brings forth the fruit? Is your heart hard? Is it crusted over and drained of nutrients that have been leeched out over the years? Is it hungering and thirsting for Jesus? Does it need to be tilled and fertilized? The answers to these questions are mostly left up to you, but I can say to a couple of them that the answer is yes! We all need our hearts continually tilled and fertilized by the Holy Spirit, we need the great Gardener of our souls to do His mighty work in us day by day. Our hearts need the softening and filling of the Holy Spirit and they need on-going protection of the Lord against sin and temptations. Our growth in grace is the work of the Lord and we are called to be intentional about availing ourselves of His work and living in light of that work. He has redeemed us from our sins, once for all. He has saved us from judgment, condemnation, death, hell, and the grave. Let us pray that the Lord would bear the fruit of the Spirit in our lives as a testimony to His grace and glory and may we be quick to bear testimony with our words as well as our lives that we have a great Savior, Jesus Christ.