I've not posted any garden pictures this year. In fact, I haven't even taken any.
Last year, and the year before in the apartment, I was so excited at each new development- each bud and sprout. This year, I don't even notice each bud and sprout- it's all I can do to keep the weeds from being taller than any of the sprouts! Have I been successful? Um, not really.
A couple weeks ago, I was getting really frustrated with it all. All these weeds, all this work, and nothing to show for it. All that I had harvested had popped up on its own- herbs, raspberries, some flowers, and not much else. Is this going to be worth it? Was I just lucky last year? Am I a huge gardening failure?
Right before church Saturday, a friend started asking me about my garden. I had harvested some peas last week, and a couple heads of broccoli. She commented all her plants seemed small and late. I told her my tomatoes were about "this high" bending down, putting my hand about mid-shin height. She laughed and said that's where hers were too, and now she didn't feel as bad. The conversation made me feel better, too.
During church, I kept thinking about it. The weed problem I'm blaming on myself- after last year's garlic was harvested, I didn't have a plan for that space, and weeds grew up quickly, causing there to be lots of weed seeds in the garden soil this year. I did my best to get crop seeds started on time, but I was late with many of them. And then the lesson in all this hit me:
I don't make things grow.
God makes things grow.
Nothing in my power can make it rain (or, in the case of this spring, stop raining) or make the sun shine, or make the bugs come or go, or make the weeds come or go.
I can do my best to keep the beds clear, to plants seeds in their season, to plan and diagram the garden, but in the end, I have no power to make things grow.
These revelations are significant to me. Just like Jonah, who loved the vine that grew up and gave him shade, then cursed God when it went away, God made the point to me: You did nothing to make these things grow. I give and take away. What is it to you?
I'm also reminded of Jesus' parable of the wheat and weeds- the wheat and weeds must grow together, for when the weeds are pulled up, the good wheat may be, too. There are beds in my garden that are like this- dense grass is growing among the carrots, and pulling up the grass would pull up the crop, too- and, with carrots, the roots are obviously very important.
I am reminded of the weeds in my life- the hurts or sin that cannot be extracted without pulling out other parts of who I am. I know that the weeds in my life may stem from seeds embedded from another season of life. I know that I can try to keep weeds under control under my own power, and try my hardest to grow- but only God can redeem me, and only God can grow me. I am powerless on my own.
Rain is a blessing and a curse- it provides a resource to make both the good and bad things in the garden grow. In an untended or neglected garden, the bad stuff grows up quickly under much rain, and the good stuff gets choked out. In a well tended garden (which is very hard to do with lots of rain!), the good stuff flourishes.
Isn't it that way with people, too? When a person is given lots of resources, it can be either a blessing or a curse. Untended, the bad stuff in their life can grow up under the "blessing" of riches, while, when carefully managed, the extra resources can help a person flourish- but this is harder to accomplish!
And then, the harvest. I've been disappointed in the harvest so far, but looking back at the pictures of last year's garden, I'm reminded that the harvest season will come- soon!- we're just not there yet. I will get to see and taste the fruits of my labor- in season- even though right now all it feels like is labor.
The work will pay off. The miracle of dirt-and-sunshine-and-water-into-food will come about. And all the credit will be God's, because I certainly haven't done anything miraculous.