In the past two years, Janelle and I have attempted to grow a garden. At first it was her idea, but it quickly grew on me. I have learned much about gardening, nature, and Scripture through gardening. So here is why I think everyone should have a garden:
Adam was a gardener – While this is a little bit of a cliché, there is something to it. Anyone who spends time in the grandeur of nature knows that it evokes a visceral feeling within our spirit. There is something about being close to nature that brings us back to closeness with God Himself. Though the world has advanced into vast technologies, there is still something about being a gardener.
You Feel the Curse – In Genesis 3, God cursed the ground and made it difficult for us to cultivate. He did that so that we would have a constant reminder of what we lost when we were expelled from the Garden of Eden. No one in their right mind would subject themselves to a curse, right? Well, as you work the ground of your garden and toil, and weed, and wonder, you recognize the need for restoration in creation. Romans 8 tells us that creation is longing and waiting to be restored.
You Get the Joy of Fruit – There is nothing quite like picking a ripe tomato, slicing it up, and putting it on your sandwich. Enjoying the fruit of your labor is a joy that the Bible talks about over and over. The book of Ecclesiastes concludes that enjoying what you have produced is a fundamental part of living. Additionally, if you end up being good at gardening, you actually get to share your fruit with others. Come August, there are always people looking to give away their Zucchini because their garden was so successful!
You Understand the Frustration of Lack of Fruit – You toil. You till. You fertilize. You weed. You Water… And that dumb plant doesn’t give you anything except leaves. That was our experience with Zucchini the first year. The plants grew HUGE. Flowers blossomed. But we got no fruit. How frustrating it is as a gardener to spend all that time and see no fruit. I wonder if God feels that same frustration with us when we bear little or no fruit of salvation. He works constantly in so many people, yet all we do sometimes is cover ourselves in pretty trappings that neither reproduce nor nourish.
You Understand Scripture in Context –
Psalm 1 – “He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.” You will understand the seasons of fruit-bearing and that even the healthiest plants only bear their fruit during a certain time of year.
Luke 6 – “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush.” As a gardener, you actually begin to recognize the difference between plants, even plants of the same type. There are about a thousand different types of tomatoes. And good gardeners know the difference and have preferences. We can see that God the Father, being the Master Gardener (John 15), knows us and desires that we each bear fruit according to what He has cultivated in us, both the Fruit of the Spirit and the use of the Gifts of the Spirit.
Hosea 10 – “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground…” Anyone who has gardened knows what fallow ground is like. It is the most difficult ground to work with because nothing penetrates it. Fallow ground results from water packing down the dirt until it is rock solid and unable to absorb water. It chokes out plant roots and everything in it dies. In order to make it fruitful, it must be broken up multiple times over the course of months until good soil (and compost) is able to be mixed into it. How often the hearts of men are hit with the Water of the Word, but it simply packs their heart harder and harder, making it more difficult for anything to penetrate. May God give them a heart of flesh and remove their heart of stone.
And so many other images that are central to Scripture…
Good seed vs. bad seed
Waiting for rain vs. irrigation
Those are just a few examples of Scripture using agricultural imagery. Anyone who has read the Bible understand that it is full of such language and symbolism. Almost 2000 years after Jesus’ time, we must make extra effort to try to understand Scripture in its original context. Gardening has become a major way for me to understand the principles behind what Scripture is saying.
I would encourage you to grow something this spring!