God the Gardener — Broken & Hopeful

(Photo: Unsplash)

I’ve been thinking a lot about how God gardens. I have a little garden in my backyard that I enjoy, and I’ve written about it before. I’ve read somewhere that the greatest optimists in the world are gardeners in the spring, as the sky is the limit in the harvest that is planned and expected. Even if my crop turns out to be bad one year, I am still back at it in the spring, hoping for a better year with buckets of produce.

The first thing I do when planting is to disturb the soil. I dig down into it, and mix it with rotting food and poop (also known as compost and manure). The soil must be disturbed before it can be planted. I bet the disruption is not comfortable for the ground, but I can see past the mess to the possibility of what can come out of it—the anticipation of good makes it worth the disruption.

Have you ever experienced God’s disruption of your soil? Has He added rotten stuff and poop to the world around you? That’s not fun, and I don’t enjoy the disruptions in my own life. I know, though, that this is the beginning of something, not the end. The planting requires the mess in order to provide a fertile place for things to grow. God doesn’t allow disruption to make us miserable, but to provide a place fertile for growth.

God also tends His garden (a.k.a., you) throughout the growing season. He doesn’t just let the vines and weeds take over and suffocate the tiny seedlings as they come up. There is great care and tenderness in His work in you, and He doesn’t abandon ever. Sometimes I am tempted to give up on a garden from which I don’t see a lot of produce, but He never gives up on you.

In his great care, God waters, props up, makes sure there is enough light and keeps the birds and insects away. He is constantly working to guard His beloved, His garden. He brings everything the plants need—they have no way of going to get it for themselves. They are completely helpless without His tending.

He rejoices when His garden bears fruit, just like I do. But the harvest is not the end of His relationship with His garden. He lets you sleep for a bit over the winter, and then He is back to it. The winters can be tough as well on us, as we think He’s abandoned us or left us with no care. Instead, He is doing all sorts of work under the ground and deep within plants to get them ready for the spring. He is doing the same with us during the winters of our lives.

The goal of God’s relationship with us is not production, and this is where things differ some from my relationship with my garden. I do very much enjoy it, but I am also gardening mostly for the results. God is much more concerned with the relationship between you and Him than He is the produce. The point is more us learning to live off His care and lifeblood flowing through us. It is us learning to rest and enjoy His provision and tenderness. It is recognizing that when our lives are being disturbed again, it won’t be forever and there is purpose in it.

We are not trying to get back to the garden of Eden—we have become the paradise of God, His favorite place. (Song of Songs 4:11, Psalm 87:3) This doesn’t mean the world is perfect around us, but we are the bride of Christ. He lives within us now—we have become His garden, and He cares deeply and tenderly for us.

I don’t like receiving compliments—they make me feel awkward. This care and love that God is providing for you is not a compliment, though. He did it all, so you don’t need to take credit for any of it or have a standard you are supposed to now meet! He died to be the Way. He came to live within to tend to His garden. He has bestowed worth and love on each of us. So, what’s my job? Enjoy it! Growth will be a result, but it is not the goal. Relationship is always the goal.

Your loving words are like the honeycomb to me; your tongue releases milk and honey, for I find the promised land flowing within you.  The fragrance of your worshiping love surrounds you with scented robes of white. My darling bride, my private paradise, fastened to my heart. A secret spring that no one else can have are you—my bubbling fountain hidden from public view. What a perfect partner to me now that I have you. Song of Songs 4:11

Re-published with the permission of Hannah Morrell at Borken & Hopeful, a ministry created for those who feel broken to fin hope in Jesus.

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