When I was growing up, summertime looked like swimming lessons, lots of time playing outside with my brothers and the neighborhood kids and gardening. For many summers, my dad and I worked on a small vegetable garden. Tomato plants and green peppers were staples each year while other vegetables rotated in and out. The neighbor next door loved to foster the interests of my brothers and I so a friendly contest began. A competition to see who would grow the first tomato as well as the biggest began one summer and provided just the motivation I needed. I proudly walked away with a homemade certificate displaying a picture of the reddest, ripest tomato I had ever seen. I was so proud and eager to repeat my win the next summer. The contest lasted for several years, until my gardening days ended due to other interests.
Working in a garden, side by side with my dad, allowed me to learn many lessons. But it is the soul work that sticks with me to this day. Deep roots of learning to persevere, the pruning of my heart to be a good winner or loser, and the joy of seeing the fruits of my labor. The lessons from my dad were magnified by the work my neighbors did to build into me too.
Gardening looks a lot like the soul work God does in and through us. The roots of the plants are like the anchors God throws out to save us and keep us steady. The fruits of the plants are the gifts God blesses us with and the ones we choose to use to honor Him. The branches represent the community of people who nurture, nourish and support us just as God does for His children. The soul work of God is ongoing, creates a better future and teaches us how to live in love as His child. In order for a garden to produce a bountiful harvest, the work to maintain it is ongoing and persistent. Open the door to the garden of your soul and let God enter in.
Deep, lasting soul work happens when we embrace the following lessons:
Provide a space for the work that is needed
Invite God into your heart over and over to mold, shape and teach you.
Work hard to persevere even when you cannot see the fruits of your labor
Never give up even when the journey is uncertain and fuzzy. God has a beautiful plan for you.
Allow God to prune and nourish you with His Word
Spend time in the Word and soak in the truth of God’s grace, love and hope
Feed yourself truth (God’s truth) to develop a stable root system
Let your mind fill up with the truth that Jesus died on the cross to save you. The battle has been won.
Embrace community as they nurture and build into you
There will be other people in your life who wish to mentor you and foster growth. Leave yourself open to these opportunities.
Finally, soul work takes time, space and trust in God. I pray these verses nurture you and help you grow your garden of faith.
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this:
6 He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun. Psalm 37:5-6
Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal. Isaiah 26:4
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:33-34
Blessings of grace along the way!
Linking with Lisha @GiveMeGrace
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