A couple of years ago, my husband spent a great deal of time, energy and money building a beautiful U-shaped raised garden bed for Mother’s Day and my birthday. It was tall enough I didn’t have to bend over, it was enclosed so the deer couldn’t eat the plants and it was filled with rich, organic composted soil we paid someone to deliver. We continued to invest in it by purchasing dirt to counteract the heaving that naturally occurs.
Every year I purchase bedding plants and seeds to put in the garden bed. Herbs are carefully chosen and nurtured all summer. Thought is given to a strategic layout as I try new plants and weave a soaker hose throughout the bed for optimal water distribution. Plans are made to stake the plants once they are heavy with produce. Time, effort and money is put into that garden bed which is basically a hobby for me.
I enjoy seeing new life spring forth and vegetables hanging on the vines as they mature. I marvel at the life that comes forth from each seed that seems to be pre-programmed to follow built in directives. How does that seed know to grow up out of the earth instead of down? God has done an amazing job creating life in that small, hard seed that will eventually produce food to put on our table.
Inevitability, even though our garden bed is small, the plants produce more of a harvest than we can eat. As much as possible is frozen to be used later. However, time constraints don't always allow me to put up the extra vegetables right away so they live in a bowl on the counter in my kitchen with good intentions. They are beautiful and organic, filled with the raw nutrition our bodies need. They remind me of the wonder of life.
Herein lies the problem – they eventually spoil either in that bowl or the refrigerator crisper because of neglect. The spoilage does not motivate me to take care of the harvest. I berate myself for not giving it away but I really don’t know anyone that wants or needs it. Fresh produce is plentiful in our rural area. It makes me sad to see the wrinkles start to develop as the vegetables soften and eventually a spot appears as it continues to disintegrate. Even though this distress me, it doesn't motivate me enough to stop and take care of it. It just rots and I eventually throw it out.
God often speakes to me through everyday situations and this was one of those times. My beautiful harvest grown with love was not being cared for. “Being cared for” is called stewardship and that is discussed in Matthew 25 in the parable of the talents. However, the stewardship of my vegetables wouldn’t even rate in the parable – it was worse than any of the examples!
As this revelation washed over me, I began to think of the other areas of my life, especially the spiritual area, that had been nurtured with love. The areas where resources were set aside and life’s energy poured into an aspect of my spiritual development came to mind. The effort God and I had intentionally focused to develop my understanding of His love for me and others – what have I done with that harvest? What was sitting being unattended and unused?
When I think of the work the effort and the time God himself has put toward my life – and the unimaginable sacrifice of His son - I realize that just as I neglected the harvest from my garden, I have also neglected to steward some of the harvest in my spiritual life.
Through the years, God has taught me who he is, how he works with us as human beings, and how much he loves us. My life, my heart, and my spirit are full of the knowledge of his ways and his grace and his love for us. My “barns are full” so to speak.
I do not know why I sit with these things in my heart and not share more. I do not know why I’m content to keep my knowledge of His great love to myself. Just as my garden can be full of beautiful vegetables carefully tended and cared for, my life is full of beautiful spiritual fruit that is ready to be harvested as He sees fit. Anything we learn of Him should be given good stewardship and shared.
Harvesting should be a joy whether it is in our dirt garden or our spiritual garden. It is the culmination of our laborers. It is a delight to see life growing abundantly. A neglected harvest, in the natural or in the spiritual garden, does not bring the nourishment, health or delight to life as intended.
Stewardship just moved up on my priority list. Now, if you will excuse me, I need to make a trip out to my garden. There are some bell peppers that need attention.