Pulling weeds is annoying.
Looking back on all of my summers, there were days that were just annoying. Weeds upon weeds being grabbed and then pulled and thrown out, then grabbed, pulled, and thrown out again. As a kid, the monotonous activity was my dread. So was mowing the lawn, but rather than the pattern of grabbing, pulling and throwing out involved with weeds, I was reduced to grabbing and throwing out. Back and forth, back and forth.
It was so boring. And for me, this was the time before iPods, before Discmen or Walkmen, before they were so readily available to everyone. So the only sounds I heard for hours were the running of the old lawnmower engine and my dad telling me that I missed a spot. If there was a way out of mowing the grass or pulling weeds, I would try to find it, even when it meant I had to do something worse. Like laundry or dishes. As monotonous as it was, mowing lawns and pulling weeds was my first real job.
I find it curious how tending to the grass and weeds was Adam’s first job. Being a gardener was the first man’s original occupation.
It was years later, long after I was out of Sunday School, that I realized that Adam was a gardener before anything else. Before he named the animals, before his was a husband to his wife Eve, Adam was a gardener. For whatever reason, it never really resonated with me.
I got to wondering about this first man and his original occupation. Could being a gardener be a part of the Nature of God that was instilled in Adam at his creation? Could it be one of those things that is hardwired into us, a characteristic that we share with God that is deeply ingrained into the fabric of our being?
Truth be told, there are a lot of characteristics of God that are mirrored in the job of gardening. There are qualities that gardeners and God have in common. Scripture repeatedly calls those that fear the LORD God to “Be holy, as I (the LORD) am holy (Lev. 20:26; 1 Peter 1:16)”, or “Do what I do. Act as I act. Follow my lead.” While there is a plethora of characteristics shared between God and gardeners that could be discussed, I’ll only mention a few.
One, a gardener nurtures.
Whether it is the soil, the flowers, the trees or grass, a gardener takes time to see that everything gets what they need to flourish. It may be simply watering the plants. Other times, it may be a scoop of fertilizer to help the grass grow. Overall it requires the gardener to be wise, to know when and what is needed. They also know when to leave the plants alone and let the sunshine and time do their work.
Likewise, God nurtures us. Sometimes it is with blessings, like money, a new or better job, a car, this or that. Other times God’s blessings aren’t measured materially, because they are spiritual blessings. Things like peace, joy, patience or understanding far outweigh a handful of cash when compared to the relief and restoration of a weary soul.
So we should do this for others. Bless someone financially if you can. Bless another person by bringing refreshment to their soul by extending them a blessing of peace or joy or needed understanding. We can be gardeners and bring nurturing to many people’s lives if we stop and look around.
Number two, a gardener weeds.
Not everything that grows in the garden or in the yard is good. Some things must be removed before there is damage done to the soil and to other plants.
In the same way a gardener would remove the unwanted plants, so God weeds in our lives. Just because something or someone is in your life, it does not mean that they are helping and benefiting you in some way. They may need to be uprooted. While this may be painful at first to have something close to us weeded out and removed, remember this: God takes all things, good and bad, and works it out for our ultimate good and His glory (Romans 8:28).
To an extent we must do this. Not that we need to weed people out of our lives, but maybe we do. For those in leadership, those with influence over others, we are responsible for those under us. We may need to take a step in and do some weeding, removing those things that are harmful or damaging.
Lastly, the gardener prunes the plants.
To make a plant grow there are times when the gardener must be cut. It must be sheered, some trimming must happen. It may seem counter intuitive to those that aren’t big into gardening, but the truth is a seasoned gardener knows that for a plant to reach its fullest potential, to fulfill the goal and purpose of the plant, sometimes things can’t happen. Some growth has to be stopped, cut off. Nourishment is given a chance to go to new places within the plant, put to use in other areas.
How much more does God do this? And how much more love and concern does God have than a gardener? God has a life-fulfilling destiny planned out for you, but to fulfill it, it may require some trimming. Some doors in our lives need to be closed so that we can go through the right doors. Some things need to be cut out so that our energy and time can be put into the things God intended.
So we must trim and cut as well. While this could be directed at leaders and authority figures to do for their followers, it seems to hit home harder. We need to examine our own lives, our own gardens if you will. Are we putting energy, time and resources into dead stumps, the parts of our lives that are not growing? Or are we giving everything we’ve got into areas that are already flourishing, giving into the places that we are called to be?