It's April! In Zone 6B where I live, it's seed planting time. Last year, I picked up gardening as a hobby while being sheltered in place. I purchased plants from the nursery, but this year I took the courageous step to grow from seeds.
Can I tell you... this gardening thing is a whole sermon. I've been so blessed by the process and God is teaching me all kinds of new things through my gardening experience. We can learn from anything if we just open our hearts and minds to God. Gardening has been good for me, spiritually, emotionally, and — this summer when I harvest these delicious fruits and veggies — it will be good and delicious, physically.
Seeds foster growth. I am still harvesting from positive seeds that were planted in my life years ago. I also work to weed out any growth from negative seeds that may have been planted along the way. Hence the topic of this month's newsletter.
Gardening preaches a whole sermon if you let it. When I first started sowing seeds for my spring garden, I was reminded of "The Parable of the Sower" in Mark 4:1-20. I wrote about this parable in a previous newsletter, "Stay Grounded and Stay Woke" . In the parable Jesus talks about seed sown into three types of ground: rocky ground, thorny ground, and good soil. The sowers are those who spread the gospel. The seed is the message - the word of God. The plants are the people.
In early March, I successfully planted my seeds and patiently waited for them to grow...and by patiently I mean I was going in there every hour looking for a sprout of green. As God would have it, two days after planting I woke up to sprouts of tomato plants. I was so excited. Within a week, I had basil, oregano, thyme, and mint but my peppers, spinach, and lettuce were not growing.
As it turns out, all seeds are not the same. I watered my seeds every day, but peppers prefer a drier environment to grow. Spinach and lettuce seeds prefer cooler soil and I had placed them on a heat mat with the others. So, while the tomatoes and herbs flourished in heat, it was killing my spinach and lettuce.
Once I figured out the right environment for the unique seed types, everything in my garden was growing. That's when those little seedlings started preaching to me.
Jesus taught us that seeds of faith require good fertile soil to produce growth. Gospel seeds that are planted on rocky soil aren't planted deep enough to survive. When the Gospel is planted in thorny ground, it gets choked out by life's concerns. Good soil for growing in God requires a deeply rooted relationship with Jesus and plenty of light from God's word.
Some seeds grow in rocky, thorny, raggedy soil. For those types of seeds, this negative environment is enriching. Just as my peppers prefer dry soil, doubt, hate, worry, self-loathing, and all sin thrive in certain kinds of the soil. While they die in the good soil of God's word, these negative seeds sprout in environments ripe for their growth.
What seeds did you plant?
This revelation stuck with me for days. The kinds of seeds we plant matters. Tomato seeds produce tomatoes. Strawberry seeds produce strawberries, and so on. Did you plant faith, hope, love, and kindness? Or did you plant doubt, hate, worry, and fear? This is where Philippians 4:8 helps us. "Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise."
What seeds are growing?
I was amazed to learn that sometimes you find random plants growing in your garden. Squirrels (the ultimate garden foe) unknowingly planted their seeds and nuts into the tomato garden of my friend. She didn't know until a tiny walnut tree and blue berry bush started sprouting with her tomatoes.
It's important to note that the squirrels don't mean any harm. They are simply stashing away their food. They are doing what is natural for them. So be kind to them, but keep them out of your garden.
Are enemies to your growth planting seeds into your life causing unintended growth? You may have planted good seeds of faith with the best of intentions. However, pesky, sneaky critters may be planting other seeds and messing up your growth with their stuff. Read that again and sit with it.
Why are seeds growing?
Some seeds, like mint, are sown directly on the surface while others require depth. We established that negative seeds require a negative environment to grow. While the seeds of faith get choked in the thorny ground of life, worry and anxiety thrive there. When I discovered that spinach needed cool soil, I changed the environment. If you find yourself growing negative crops planted by you or someone else, figure out what needs to change. Sometimes you need to remove something...like the heat for the spinach. Sometimes you may need to add something, like I add sulfur to my strawberries. Tweak the environment to produce positive growth.
Here are some examples of soil that require care to grow a positive harvest.
*TV/Media choices can evoke fear, worry, and doubt. If so, turn them off. Stop watching and listening to things that produce a negative harvest...that includes social media feeds. Choose something more positive and inspiring. Clean up your feeds and subscriptions so that only good crops are produced. There is only so much light in the shade room. Jussayin.
*People (of course) can waste your time and energy as distractions. They can speak negatively of your dreams, goals, and faith causing doubt. Take an inventory of your relationships and daily interactions. Make the necessary adjustments to create "good soil."
*Physical health sets the tone for your growth. We make terrible decisions when we are hungry and/or tired. I know it's not just me. Choose to eat healthier, exercise, and get enough sleep. You'll be amazed at how much this enriches your soil for good growth.
*Spiritual Health produces good soil that kills negative weeds and harmful pests. If you #readyourbible and pray daily it keeps negative crops from growing in your life. Stay connected to a church. Listen to sermons and teachings on podcasts. Get some "word" in you every day.
In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus taught us that good seed requires good soil. Rocky ground and thorny soil don't produce a good crop for God. The presence of negative "weeds" in our life means that something needs to change. Let's find out what it is and change it.
See...I told you gardening was a whole sermon!
“The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.”