The Garden

by Rhonda, August 03, 2022

I've been pretty excited about my garden this year.  I've got cucumbers, canteloupes, honeydews, tomatoes, beans, and even a new melon called Farmer's Wife melon.  All of these plants have been growing happily throughout the summer.

 I did make a mistake, though.  I didn't plant everything far enough apart.  The melons need a lot of room to stretch themselves out (so do the cucumbers).  I wasn't too worried if one plant grew into another, and to be honest,  I didn't mind the thick net of greenery that resulted.  I have a bit of a jungle, but the chaos also made it beautiful to me.

However, now I see why this is a problem.  The cucumbers have caught some sort of a disease (I'm still figuring out exactly what it is).  I think its a fungus of some sort, but guess what.  They're so intertwined with all of the other plants that now some of the other plants are starting to die as well.  What started as one plant in the corner of the garden looking sickly is quickly spreading.

I'm afraid I'm going to lose the whole thing.

Its amazing how an entire healthy, thriving garden can be threatened by one little plant that is sick.

I was thinking about the spiritual parallels.  Our irregular little family (myself, my kids, and my father) all live in this house together.  Against all odds, we're doing well.  Perhaps not thriving, but I think we're on the path to it.

Yet, it doesn't take long for me to lose my way and find myself off-track.  Divorce will do that to you.  One sizable dose of unforgiveness, followed by a bout of anger, followed by a lot of distraction will quickly sideline me.  My spiritual health affects more than just me.  It affects my kids.  It affects my father.  It will quickly make the entire household sick if I walk around bitter and angry.

Just like that, one sick plant will take out the entire garden.

I've seen it happen.  I've watched the tone of our home change when I fall back into anger and unforgiveness.  Every time it happens, I remind myself this is about so much more than just me.  It is about the others who live here, the others who depend on me.  I don't get to sit around and be angry and bitter, as tempting as it may be.  I can't fall into it.  I don't want that life for me, or for those whom I love.

Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.

Every time I want to fall back into anger and bitterness, I must stop myself from living by my impulses.  When we are ruled by our own impulses, we become resistant to the righteousness of God.  Instead, we start to live in the righteousness of Self, which is never a good road.  We need to live in the righteousness of God, not Self, as followers of Jesus.  His opinions are what matters, not ours.  What does He say about the situation?  Is this right?  Is this good?  Is this what's best for me?  These are the questions we must ask.

The problem with living in anger is we will live in revenge.  Revenge clouds out grace.  So, to live in anger means we compromise grace.  This is an exhausting way to live.  We need to rest in the grace of God.  We deserve to give ourselves some space, to make room for God's grace in our lives.  If we don't, revenge will spread misery and before we know it, the entire garden is in danger.

God will work through us, or in spite of us.  The difference is going to be our experience.  I want to experience God's grace much more than I want to exact revenge.  

Today, I bought some fungus treatment for my plants.  Tomorrow, our family is going to be working in the garden.  We're going to remove the infected leaves, and spray the remaining plants.  It will be a project, but we'll tackle it together. We're hoping to heal the garden so it will be plentiful again.  

There may be damage, but there's always hope for new life.

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