Ready, Set, Wait

Ready, Set, WIMG_7323ait!

Well, the last job is done for the winter—tilling the garden.  Dear old Tilly is out there now, purring away until the gas is gone.  A good wash and she gets to rest for the season.

The garden is ready, but for what?  It’s ready to rest; however, any seeds that are still in the ground are also ready to sprout as soon as the weather gets warmer.  Even while the snow is on the ground, that seed is ready—ready for the sun!

Luke eight begins by telling us that Jesus and His disciples went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. Verses 2-4 tell of Mary Magdalene’s deliverance from demons, the care given to Jesus and his disciples by new converts, and that a crowd had gathered to hear Him speak. It’s not by accident that the next few verses  in Luke eight are about soil. As though to encourage the sowers, Jesus tells the parable of the four soils: wayside, rocky, thorny and good. Our responsibility is to give the Word–spread the Seed.  There’s nothing wrong with the seed—the Word of God, and there may be nothing wrong with the sower—YOU!  Doing a heart-check is always good to be sure that the Spirit has free reign and our motives are correct, but the fruit of the hearer is not our responsibility.  I can no more make someone respond to the Word of God than I can make my tomato plants grow!  How comforting!

HOWEVER, when we ARE the soil, we are the receiver of the seed—how we respond IS our responsibility.  1 Corinthians 15:58 gives us some pointers:

Therefore, my beloved brethren,

be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord,

forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

Did Jesus see fruit for His labor? Absolutely; however, He also wept over Jerusalem because He knew the condition of many hearts and that His own people would soon demand His crucifixion. Jesus knows everything. He remained faithful to His calling to the very end of His earthly life.

Always abounding in the work of the Lord is the fruit of always bounding in the Word of the Lord! Be ready.  Even though you may be in a “winter” time of fruitfulness, know that God is always working in your heart, your children, your ministry. There’s something beautiful about a garden lying fallow. The summer work is done. The harvest has been gathered. Snow is on the way! Even so, as the ground rests, it waits for spring. As we ‘wait’ for the moving of the Spirit, may we realize that ‘spring’ may be just around the corner!

Be ready!  Be set! Be willing to wait!

I HATE WEEDS!

IMG_7554 I hate weeds!  Do you mind if I say that a little louder?  I HATE WEEDS!!!! We have had a bunch of rain, so much that I couldn’t even get into my garden without sinking into the mud!  Finally, today was the day to weed; however, by now, the ground was still wet and hard! It was A LOT of work just digging up the ground!  And then there are the weeds!  IHATE WEEDS!  Why do there have to be weeds?  Why do I even do this to myself?  Why plant a garden?  Those are the questions I asked my dear husband who was kneeling at the raised bed and weeding it for me.

So now the job is done, and when I look out the window and see those beautiful rows of various shades of green, AND NO WEEDS, I love it!IMG_7555

Weeds. They have taught me so many lessons that I really should be thankful for them!  Today’s lesson is this:

Do I hate my sin as much as I hate those weeds?  If I could come up with a way NOT to have any weeds, I be so happy (and rich: who wants weeds?)  I know they make herbicides, but I really don’t want to fill my garden with chemicals.

Is there a way to keep sin out of my life? No—this side of heaven, we will ALWAYS struggle with sin.  Both weeds and sin are part of the curse.  However, I have learned that if I hoe hoe hoe my garden once a week, it nearly eliminates the backbreaking task of pulling weeds.

Read your Bible, pray every day, and you’ll grow, grow, grow!  AND it will keep sin at bay!

Who could love weeds?  Who would love sin? ME!  Ugh!  Do you have a “pet” sin that you just don’t want to part with? Wouldn’t it be ridiculous to have a “pet” weed in your garden?  And then there’s that “besetting” sin – the one that keeps coming back!  That would be the mint in my garden!  What an annoyance!

There are so many “kinds” of sins: sneaky sins that catch you by surprise; little sins (in our eyes) that we are tempted to ignore; secret sins that really aren’t that secret because God knows everything!  I shudder to think how the garden of my heart looks to God at times!

IMG_7556Praise the Lord for 1 John 1: 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Confessing sin, keeping our hearts right is an even more beautiful sight than a weed-free garden!

Beauty for Ashes

There are so many lessons to be learned in the garden.  I’d say we all have a bit of the farmer in us – who doesn’t like to see things grow?  And even if you don’t have any desire to develop your green thumb, it would be worth it to allow your kids to have a small plot somewhere in the back yard.  The lessons in diligence, persistence, and rewards are invaluable; and it will teach them how to work!  AND if you really want to teach them patience – plant carrots!

We had a late start with the garden because of Tilly’s time away in the shop, so when I planted the onions, lettuce, corn and beans, I left three rows for the tomatoes; however, later, when I started planting the tomato plants, I dug up a corn kernel!  Inadvertently, I had planted one row of tomatoes in the same row of corn/beans! DUMB!!  How can I be so stupid?!  (Actually, for me it’s rather easy!)  Now what?  Really, there was nothing to do but wait until the beans and corn showed up.

When they did, I noticed that in the other three rows, some of the seeds hadn’t sprouted, so I dug up the little plants and placed them in the empty spots.

And isn’t that just like our dear Heavenly Father?  He takes our mistakes and makes them profitable to us!  Doesn’t He promise “beauty for ashes?”  (Isaiah 61:3)  While we’re kicking ourselves for making such foolish mistakes, God has already planned how He will use our “mistakes” to show us another wonderful little facet of His great design.

So many lessons!  Doesn’t it just make you want to go out and dig?! 🙂

 “To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion,
to give unto them beauty for ashes,
the oil of joy for mourning,
the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
that they might be called trees of righteousness,
the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.”
Isaiah 61:3

Is the seed yet in the barn?

ID-1009077This morning, I finally filled by bird feeders.  I’m so thankful that the little birdies do not have to depend upon me for their survival, because I’m not very faithful in feeding them – especially when I’ve run out of seed!  But now the feeders are clean and full and there’s plenty more, not in the barn, but in our garage!

Feeding the birds and watching them is a hobby of mine.  I especially love to watch  the yellow finches in the spring when their tiny feathers regain their brilliant yellow coloring.  I also get really excited when the colorful blue buntings are sited – a rarity.  I haven’t been able to draw in the bluebirds, although they do use our houses; and although I couldn’t see them one summer, I could hear their conversation on the day the babies were to leave the comfortable security of the home and fly!  They chattered all morning!

It may take awhile, but my little feathered friends will return once the word gets out that the seed is there!  Once more, my front window will be filled with bird flights and song!

But what if I had left the seed “in the barn?”  I made the effort to purchase the forty pound bag!  I even emptied into the rodent-proof plastic container in the garage. (Speaking of rodents – did I tell you about the red squirrel that was in our toilet?  Now I have your attention!  Our garage is underneath our house, the other half is our basement where the wood stove burns cheerily and keeps us warm.  So…the basement door is kept open.  I guess the little fellow came in through the garage and decided to see what was upstairs but got thirsty!  He should have worn his life jacket!)

I’m sure you’ve already guessed the spiritual application behind this blog. Is the seed yet in the barn?  The seed is the Word of God.  How are you doing at getting the Word out?  We have so many venues today that we can use, but probably the most effective way is still the words you speak.  Movies are great, blogs are wonderful :), billboards can shout out the Word; but nothing speaks louder than your own voice!  Why?  Because YOU are there, behind the voice, with your heart showing through!

It doesn’t always mean going through the “plan of salvation” with someone. There are lots of seeds that have to be planted; or perhaps the better illustration would be the farmer or gardener who knows the work that has to be done before the seed hits the ground!  Plowing, raking, fertilizing, weeding, digging…so much happens before the joy of planting the seed takes place.

Last night, I had the privilege of talking and  praying with a young boy about salvation.  His little heart was so tender.  He prayed that Jesus would come into his heart and take away his sin and be his Savior.  It was a wonderful blessing, but many, many hours went into that moment.  His parents’ faithfulness in taking him to church and teaching him at home, praying with him, reading the Bible with him…all this took place before last night.  I believe God’s Word took root in his tender heart, and I look forward to watching that little life grow!

Take the seed with you – carry a Gospel tract.  I’m especially in favor of that kind of witness because it was through a Gospel tract that I found the truth, became a believer, got saved, was converted, trusted Christ! Choose your phrase!  I love to hand a cashier a tract and say, “This is the best news you’ll get today!”  True?!

The seed in my feeder will cause a flurry of activity.  “It’s here,” the birds chirp one to  another.  Are you in a church that is preaching God’s Word?  This is easy to tell, because the preacher stands up there and opens the Bible and preaches!  (Sorry, did that sound sarcastic?)  I once head a young girl say that she NEVER hears her pastor preach!  during the preaching, she’s in a class where they watch DVDs.  I’m not saying that DVDs can’t be effective, but shouldn’t an eleven year old be able to sit and listen to the Word of God being preached?  What are we teaching our children?  Is the seed left in the barn?

If I had a birdcage in my home, and it housed a little canary, that tiny life would be dependent on my faithful feeding.  Unlike the birds outside who can go to the neighbors or the forest and fields to get nourishment, my little canary would only receive the food a placed in his cage.  How much of God’s Word are YOU feeding to your children?  And don’t forget to stuff yourself while you’re at it!

Is the seed in the barn?  Oh the power that is waiting to explode, now resting in that precious Book, the Bible!  Go ahead, try it – scatter a few and watch God work!  Your efforts are backed by God’s promises.  “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11

May no one be able to say of us: “I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul.” Psalm 142:4

Is the seed yet in the barn? Habakkuk 2:19

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

Hebrew 4:12

Oh, that stinky stuff!!!

IMG_6078What a beautiful sight!  That, my friends, is my garden; and those lovely dark clumps are manure!!! It sure doesn’t smell very nice, but I’m ready to see more fruit from my labors this year!

Like any task, there is a cost involved.  Now I didn’t pay anything for my beautiful manure, but it did cost time and effort on the part of a dear family in our church who were gracious enough to bring the stuff.  AND, it cost time and labor on my dear son and husband’s part to spread it around.  Taking the tiller to it will be the fun part!

By the way, for those of you who remember Tilly – she’s in the shop, but they say she’s worth fixin’!  It will cost more than we really wanted to pay, but it’s a lot less expensive than a new tiller!

Preparing the ground: it takes time, effort, and expense.  Is it worth it?  I think so.  We certainly do not grow all our vegetables in this little plot of ground, but it sure tastes great when it’s fresh from the garden!  Isn’t that just like our wonderful Lord?  He takes the stinky manure mixed in with dirt and changes those tiny little seeds into wonderful vegetables!

And isn’t it even more amazing that He can take us – human clay, no matter how “stinked up” we are with sin, and He plants the seed of His Word into the willing heart and brings forth the fruits of salvation AND santification!  Don’t you just want to bring as much fruit into your life for Him as you can?

 “And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred.” Mark 4:8

Tily Tries My Patience

So, today I decide to till the garden instead of exercising.  Running Tilly is definitely exercise!  She must not have slept well, because she is sputtering all over the place!  She’s lost her spunk!  I baby her along, hoping that she’ll kick into high gear – no chance!  I think she’s upset because I was checking out tillers on the web!  Who would pay over $700 for tiller?  I can buy a lot of vegetables for that amount, even from the farmer’s market!  It’s supposed to rain today and the Ladies’ Missionary Group is coming in an hour and a half, but Tilly has more lessons for me.

  1. Maybe it’s time for her to retire.  Dear older-worker-bee, do you need to step down and let the younger ones take over?  Sometimes we complain that they are not doing the work, but maybe it’s because we don’t trust them to do the job.
  2. Dear younger-worker-be- possibility, do you need to step up to the plate?  You may say, “But what can I do?”  Can you scrub a toilet?  My husband and I joke about the fact that that is where we started serving the Lord – it’s true!  You would probably be surprised at what you could do.  I’ve never met a pastor yet that refused help!  J
  3. Both sides of the fence require a lot of grace!

I think Tilly knows that I was just thinking about checking out Craig’s List – that’s when her belt fell off. My father was a farmer and a machinist – he could fix anything!  So, in the spirit of my heritage, I took a closer look.  Hm, there was a part of the machinery that was hanging at an odd angle, and at a closer look, I saw that a nut was missing!  How would I ever find a nut in a newly tilled garden?  I couldn’t, so I went to the garage.  Now, growing up on a farm, I appreciated my father’s work bench that had every size nut, bolt, nail, and screw that you could imagine!  But, alas, no nut here of the right size.  I prayed as I headed out to the garden.  “Lord, I need a miracle.  You know where that nut is.  I will NEVER find it without your help, and with out the nut (I mean the one belonging to the bolt!), Tilly is done for the day!”  What a gracious God we serve!  After another look around the garden, and when I was ready to call it quits – there was the bolt!  Jehovah-gireh!!

  1. How much do you trust God?  How hard are you leaning on the Everlasting Arms?  We often want to lean and ask only for the select items on our list: the ones that we understand.  Can you ask for His help in the areas you don’t understand; and are you ready to accept the answer He gives?

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  Isaiah 55: 8,9

  1. PATIENCE!  This is the hardest lesson we (or maybe just I) will ever face!  I was ready to junk the whole thing.  Forget gardening!  Shove Tilly over a cliff and call it a day. God’s ways are SO much higher than ours; but as Paul Harvey used to say, “Now for the rest of the story…”  Maybe tomorrow!

Ode to Tilly

Dear Tilly is my rototiller.  She’s not actually mine – I’m just ‘borrowing’ her from my mom!  I remember Dad faithfully using Tilly every year for Mom.  (He didn’t know her name though! 🙂 )  I guess it’s the farm girl in me, but I love to put on my dungarees (I just love that word!  It sounds so much more “farmy” than jeans 🙂 ) and head for the garden to till it up.  Now Tilly is old and tired, but she starts right up purring like a kitten.  She does have a little cough every now and then, but that doesn’t stop her!  She’s not as strong as she used to be: she’s had a rough life.  I don’t know how many years my folks used her, and I’m not even sure if they bought her new.  Then she sat in the shed for about eleven years.  The wasps got at her and there was water in the engine.  She was a mess; so, we took her to a dear older man in our church, and he got her chugging again!  There are so many lessons to learn while gardening.  Tilly taught me a few today:

  1. She’s old and ready for that big junkyard in the sky, but I still have some work for her to do.  I feel that way sometimes.  I understand Paul’s statement more every day: ”For me to live is Christ, to die is GAIN!” I may be old and achy, but God still has a few things for me to do – you too (even if you’re not old and achy!)
  2. When I hit a stone, Tilly just jumps all over like a bucking bronco!  How do I react when God puts me in a tough spot?  We’re in a battle, dear friend.  Life as a Christian is NOT easy.  There are lots of rocks that can really jolt us, but God will pick out the rocks.  Our job is to stay the course!
  3. I let go of Tilly for a moment to check my watch.  Do you know what she did?  She went her own way – the easy way: down hill and through the already tilled spot!  Isn’t that just like us?  We want the easy road, and oh, how lost we would be if God let us go our own way!!

Half the garden is tilled, but that’s the easy part.  I’ve just finished raking all the big stones and weeds that have the nerve to already be sprouting.  From my kitchen window, it looks pretty good.  To the casual passerby, it looks ready to plant; however, I know better.  I will need to go over it again.  Why?  Because there are lots of roots yet to be dug out, and I need to go deeper into the soil.

 Are you looking good on the outside but a little weedy on the inside?  God knows and sees all the weeds that need to be tended to, and YOU are the only one who can dig them out.  God might come at you with a tiller: a dear Christian friend or pastor or radio speaker who uses the Word to dig at that nasty weed’s roots, but YOU need to pull them out.  The Bible only mentions one root:

“Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God;

lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you,

and thereby many be defiled;” (Heb 12:15)

  What a nasty root – its parallel for the gardener is the dandelion.  If you’ve ever tried to pull one out of the ground, you know that they have a tap root – a LONG STRONG root.  You will need a tool to dig it out, and if you don’t get the whole root: Surprise! – another dandelion will appear.  Notice that the root of bitterness not only troubles you, but MANY are defiled!  It’s like acid rain that poisons everything in its path.  You will need the Word of God to root that one out!  Memorize a verse like Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”

Then we need to dig deep into God’s Word.  I’m honored that you have taken the time to read this, but be sure that you are taking time for yourself in God’s Word – just you and God!  Go deeper: look up cross references; use a commentary; look up words you don’t understand; get a pen and notebook and write down your thoughts.

 “Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.”    Job 23:12  Wow! What a verse, but that one needs a whole other blog!  🙂