Today is the first in a two part series on spiritual growth and development. Today’s post focuses on the work of growth, while tomorrow’s post will focus on intentionality.
I grew up on a farm in central Kansas. A place full of long summer days, endless blue skies, rolling wheat fields, thunderstorms, wind, and a vastness of space that I have experienced in few other places.
And weeds. I can’t forget the weeds.
We had a family garden growing up. But I don’t mean some cute little city person garden. This wasn’t a row of tomatoes, a row of beans, a few peppers, and some flowers. This was row after row after endless row of tomatoes, potatoes, bushes, shrubs, berries, beans, peas, and carrots. You name it, my parents grew it.
Except when your mom is a librarian and your dad a farmer, the task of weeding falls to the kids. So everyday, my brother and I had an allotted time we needed to spend in the garden discovering the joy of weeding. Picking, plucking and pulling our way down the rows we would spend an hour every day attempting to become one with the garden. [pullquote]We were supposed to find zen. All I ever found were blisters and a bad attitude.[/pullquote]
And then, finally at my wits end, we would harvest. A joyful abundance of rhubarb, strawberries, grapes, peas and a whole assortment of beans and peppers. A royal feast would take place.
I wanted the feast without the work. I wanted the celebration without the discipline.
If we aren’t careful, we can end up treating Christianity like this.
Good gardening requires lots of hard work. For trees, there’s pruning. For vegetables, there’s fertilizing. For fruit, there’s picking.
Christian growth (more commonly thought of as discipleship) is much the same way. We can’t experience growth and the joy of ‘the feast’ without the hard behind-the-scenes work. We can’t have a harvest without cultivating, planting, and pruning our lives to be more like Jesus.
But I also need the positives of good gardening:
I wasn’t much for gardening growing up. Truth be told, I’m still not, but now I see so much more than I did as an eight year old boy worried that summer would pass him by. Now, I see the work that goes into a good harvest is worth every second of investment. As a pastor, Jesus follower, and Good News believer, I also realize that when I stare at blossoming trees or nasty weeds I see myself: needing the hard work of discipline, to ultimately find myself pruned, weeded, and growing in the faith and hope of Jesus.