I had a gardening job this summer for a neighbour. It was just on the side, along with my other job and the coursework I was doing in the summer semester. All the same, I learned some pretty interesting things.
The first was that even when my fingernails were black and my shoes were full of dirt and the mosquitoes were flying around my head and my face probably had several black streaks, I could still talk with God and He would graciously listen.
When you are pulling smooth bromegrass roots out of the same plot of ground over and over and over again and have gone through all of the Scripture you were memorizing and have thought about everything else you can think of and feel ready to purchase some Round-Up… talking to God was a much better option, and one that I came to look forward to. My two, three, or four hours sitting in the middle of a tangled mess of roots which kept relentlessly sending up grass shoots were pleasant hours with my God.
While I was working in a less troublesome spot, though, I learned something really interesting. I had been told to just take out whatever looked like weeds in a flower bed, and I set to work. About an hour later, all the dandelions were gone, the grass had been dug out, the spaces between the landscaping stones were cleaned out, and I thought it looked quite pretty—so much better than it had been!
Well, my employer came out and looked at it and said, “Well done. Now, that is a weed, so is that, this isn’t a weed, but it can be taken out, and so can this and this…” and in short I was almost back where I had been! But once those directions were carried out, even removing some of the ‘wanted’ plants also, the flower bed really looked good.
I find it so easy to congratulate myself when I call someone I don’t know, or when I resist some temptation, or keep my temper in check. And God says, “Well done!” But he certainly does not think, like I am prone to, that the flower bed is finished. No, there is still this weed, and that one, and this flower really doesn’t belong there. Christianity is a constant journey and it is a hard one that often involves getting our hands dirty and crying to God over those roots that Keep. Coming. Back. But God is there the whole time, and He has the master plan for our garden bed that is slowly revealed as we finish each round of weeding.
Now that the snow flies, I have no more gardening work. Part of me is (very) glad, but I’ll miss the botanical theology!