“The Lord will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well watered garden, like a spring whose waters will never fail.” -Isaiah 58:11
I love gardens. I come from a long line of gardeners: my grandmother and great aunt cultivated beautiful gardens, winning awards. I cherish the memory of planting flowers with my mother, spending time together. Naturally when I left home I was excited about starting my own garden. I skipped to the local nursery and bought an assortment of plants. However after a few short weeks all the plants dried up under the hot Georgia sun. What went wrong?
My friend Ida offered to mentor me in gardening. I learned some significant life lessons during this time.
FOUNDATION: When observing my neglected garden Ida told me I needed to dig three feet deep (about a meter) and mix that Georgia red clay with nourishing soil. When we dug it up we found all kinds of junk there—old toys, balls, bottles, trash and rocks. No wonder nothing was able to grow! I realized I need God to help me dig up the junk in my life—unhealthy relationships, controlling addictions and bad habits—and replace them with his nourishing soil. These “rocks” are usually tied to a fear (no one else will love me so I’m going to remain in this bad relationship) or a lie (I’m unloveable). This is difficult but foundational work.
WEEDS: Ida mentioned the importance of keeping a garden free of weeds. Birds fly overhead and drop seeds among the flowers and weeds take over, seeping nutrition from plants. As the gardener I need to remove them. But I can’t just trim the weeds. The entire root needs to be removed or more weeds will take over. In order to grow in my life, I need God to search my heart and remove the “weeds” (see Psalm 139:23-24). These weeds creep in unnoticed and come back stronger each year unless they are uprooted. Unhealthy patterns you thought you removed can reappear (I’m married now but still believe the lie that I’m unlovable because of insecurity in friendships). This calls me to believe the TRUTH about God and myself: uprooting these weed-lies. It’s uncomfortable and often painful, but the alternative is much worse. These weeds have the potential to choke out life.
CULTIVATE: The last crucial step in gardening is to keep plants watered and fertilized. The summer we planted our garden a severe drought came to Georgia. Plants died and grass grew brittle. But my garden was still full of life. Each day I was diligent to water, prune and care for my plants. The result was a thriving garden in the midst of a parched land. As a believer in Christ, circumstances don’t define me. I can thrive in any situation. But I must draw strength from outside myself. I must depend on the source of all life, Jesus.
“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11b-13
Taylor has lived over half her life desiring to know God and make Him known. She is the wife to Josh Irby and the mother to four beautiful children. She lives in Bosnia working with college students and young moms. She loves creating art and music and teaching her children piano. You can read more on her blog: Irby Road.
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