Much to my surprise, I have learned that many people are not “gardeners”. Their eyes don’t twinkle with anticipation when seed magazines show up mid-winter, or watch the temperature like a vulture waiting for things to get above 40 degrees. They may not even have a shed filled with a chaotic mess of tools and supplies just waiting to be deployed. Being a gardener, I have all those things.
The garden shed is a fine metaphor for our spiritual journey, though. Some people don’t have one at all – and don’t want one. Others have one and face it with resignation because it is only a place of labor and no joy. Others have a shed that wafts out possibility and hope and all things renewed every time they open the door. If we place “garden shed” with “Bible” it still fits: some don’t have one and don’t want one, some have one but it is a chore, and others open it with anticipation every time.
You know the truly shocking thing? No one wants a shed. No one wants a bible. We all want the results that come from those things, but none of us want those things. Gardeners want the produce, not the shed. We all want to be near to God, the tools and work and toil we are told are just part of it. We are told we must do these things if we are ever to feel the presence of The Most High.
Here is another shocking thing: that isn’t true. Jesus did not show up to those who had the most time praying in the synagogue. He did not reserve himself only to those with memorized scripture, devout and holy. He came for the lost, the broken, the ones without a shed at all. He came for those with sincere hearts and those with devious hearts. He came for those who were praying, and for those who were living lives of sin. You know whom He did not come for? Those who thought they already knew it all and had it all figured out – you know, those with an organized shed, a tight maintenance schedule, and a list of things of things to judge as worthy and not worthy. But He came for the rest of us. He came as a gift – not a thing that could be earned.
And this is what I take away every time I work in my garden: my garden is a gift from God. Nothing I am doing is producing growth or harvest. God is doing it all. He is doing it whether I show up or not. He makes seeds to grow: roots down, leaves up. He makes pollinators do their job so they can reproduce their young to do their job again next year. He does it all – or at least all the truly important parts. I do my bit – I water and weed and assist. But God is really the miracle worker still.
This is how He is with us as well. He is doing it all. He is gifting us with his presence and his mercies. We show up. We do what we can to participate in the work God is already doing. And when we do that – participate – we are close enough to see the miracles. That is also a gift from God.
So if your “Bible-time” is nonexistent, or a chore, or a time of love and joy, hold fast to this: God is still God no matter what we do or don’t do, what we feel or don’t feel. The work of the garden is all being done by God. Our job is to show up, participate as best we can, and watch for the miracle of His hand.