Sara and I planted a vegetable garden this year. It’s nothing too big, and nothing all that fancy, either, although we’re working on it. We decided to try “square foot gardening” in raised boxes. We mixed our own soil from peat moss, compost, and vermiculite. We laid down soaker hoses to make watering easier and more efficient. We put a pvc frame over one box (so far), and wrapped netting over it to keep the birds and beasts out. And we have checked our garden nearly every day to see that things are growing, and to make sure and get the weeds out (and the massive amounts of maple seeds that have been dropping from the silver maple tree about forty feet away).
And here is what we have learned so far:
We are not all that patient.
This is probably best illustrated with the asparagus (in the long bed at the bottom of the picture). You see, asparagus normally takes three years, started from seed, to reach maturity and produce quality spears. We just did not want to wait that long. So, we found some roots from three-year-old plants at the store. We planted them according to the directions. We started waiting. We kept waiting. The waiting continued. Until…we had to start pulling little weeds from our asparagus bed because they began growing before the asparagus did.
Then, finally, today we found two new asparagus shoots! After waiting (rather impatiently) for several weeks, the asparagus is growing. Only, that’s not entirely true. It was growing all along, and we just couldn’t see it. And the difficult thing was that we could do nothing more about it. We followed the directions, watered regularly, kept the weeds out, and that was all we could do. God had to take care of the rest.
That is a lesson I have a hard time accepting in gardening, but an even harder time in evangelism and Christian living. I like to think I can control all of the variables when I put a seed in the ground, but I can’t. And there are many more variables in spiritual growth, many more assets and requirements, hazards, diseases, and predators.
I like to think that if I say all the right words and do all the right things then I can convince anyone to change what God wants changed in his life. That is simply not true: not only because I rarely say and do all the right things, but also because I am dealing with a human being who is pulled in a thousand different directions by a thousand different temptations and distractions.
I cannot make asparagus grow, and I cannot make a person change…and neither can you. But, then, God never asks us to do either of those things. God just asks us to be faithful, to water, nurture, share, love, serve, and walk in a manner worth of the gospel. And that is all we can do. God will keep working, even when we can’t see it. God will give the growth.
At least I hope so. We’re still waiting on the strawberries to come up.