Our Unplanned Garden
“Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so.” – Genesis 1:11
For the two summers prior to this year, Sarah and I had planted a small garden in our backyard consisting of tomatoes, cucumbers, squash and watermelon. This year however, we opted not to plant a garden. We were too busy and knew it would be an especially hectic year. Yet we ended up with a garden after all. In mid-June, a tiny watermelon sprout from last year’s crop had borrowed its way through the soil. Immediately I knew God was about to teach us a gardenful of spiritual lessons. Here are a few of those lessons.
To begin with, it has been said that if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. Growing a garden certainly was not part of our summer agenda, yet God took a hidden watermelon seed and grew it into a massive watermelon vine. The bottom line is this; God’s plans cannot be thwarted.
Secondly, what is dead, is only brought to life by God. Initially our garden box appeared empty and lifeless. Even though we had decided not to plant a garden, I went ahead and pulled the weeds out of the garden box and broke up the soil, in an effort to make it appear somewhat aesthetically pleasing. While doing so, I saw no signs of life. But within a few months, this bright green, rogue watermelon sprout came forth. I was reminded that I was once spiritually dead, yet God graciously opened my heart up to the gospel and made in alive in Christ. Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus, “Even when we were dead in our trespasses, (God) made us alive together with Christ (Ephesians 2:5).
Third, I was remined of the importance of letting go and letting God. As the watermelon vine flourished, it rapidly spread across the ground, growing in every direction. It grew so fast, that what had started out as a small plant had developed into full blown watermelon patch. In a few short weeks we had six watermelons. Not only did the vines cover the entire 8X10 garden box, but they also grew out into the yard. Cutting the grass had become difficult, so I carefully moved two of the melons with their vines in effort to mow the lawn. But this was a bad decision; for the they both died within a few days. However, the melons I did not touch continued to thrive. I came to the realization that the melons would be better off if I just left them alone. I needed to be more hands off and let God the Gardener do His thing. I came to the conclusion that “letting go and letting God” was more than a cliché; it was true.
Finally, Solomon hit the nail on the head when he wrote that there is a time to plant, and there is a time pluck up what is planted (Ecclesiastes 3:2). Some translations read “a time to plant and a time to harvest.” Anyone who has ever planted a garden understands this truth. As our watermelons grew towards maturity, it was important that we did not cut them off the vine prematurely. Being the “city boy” that I am, I even found myself watching tutorials on “You Tube” on how to determine the proper time to harvest watermelons. Eventually the two largest melons were ready, and so I cut them from the vine, weighed them (each weighing 21.8 lbs.) and then chilled them in the fridge. The next evening, we sliced them up and enjoyed fresh watermelon, sweet to the taste!
Years ago I had a youth pastor on staff with me at my first church. His name was Andrew. He was a young man, yet he was wise beyond his years. Andrew once said that tending a garden produces more than just fruits and vegetables. A garden will also bring forth a plentiful harvest of spiritual lessons. Certainly that has been our story this summer