Gardeners and farmers live in tune with the seasons. We’re intimately acquainted with the life cycles of food and how it arrives on our tables because we’re involved in every step.
Here are ten ways gardening parallels spiritual truth.
1. Prepare the soil. A random seed scattered here or there isn’t likely to grow, just as a random Bible verse tossed out will not likely bear fruit. Gardening is a thought-filled process. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but a bit of planning and working goes a long way.
2. Choose your seeds. Plant open-pollinated seeds—they grow plants that can reproduce. What good is a plant if it can’t make more? Just as we should beware of overly processed vegetable seeds, so we need to remember that our contribution to the Kingdom of God is in honest communication, not perfectly memorized sermons that may be lifeless. What good are the words of God if they don’t reproduce? He promises they won’t return to Him void, because they are words of life.
3. Provide water and sunshine. Without these necessary ingredients, seeds won’t germinate and grow into healthy, fruit-bearing plants. Jesus is our living water. We bask in the sunlight of his love. If we don’t spend time with our Lord, our spiritual lives can’t sprout and grow either.
4. Pull the weeds. Digging them out while they are little causes the least disruption to the vegetables, so do it before they can steal all the water, sunshine, and soil nutrients. You don’t want weak, spindly, or dead vegetables. In the same way, don’t let bad habits get rooted. Once established, they can crowd out or even kill growth.
5. Fertilize. Skip the fake chemicals. Look for what’s best for the soil and plants long term, not just for quick flowers. Provide living food such as rotted compost and manure. Christianity isn’t candy-coated either. Strong growth comes out of difficult situations, not fluff.
6. Provide trellises as needed. Some seeds, like carrots, grow deep roots. Others, like tomatoes, grow into bushy plants. Others, like peas, have shallow roots and grow into vines that need to be upheld. Get support when you need it. It’s not a sign of weakness.
7. Prune. Just as not every vegetable plant needs a trellis, so not all need pruning. But if the gardener wishes to maximize the edible parts of certain plants—such as basil or tomatoes—judicious trimming goes a long way. Unlike bad habits that crowd us and should be weeded away, pruning is done to the plant itself to encourage growth. Painful? Yes, but we can trust God with the pruning shears.
8. Plan for fruit (or vegetables). With a few exceptions, we don’t eat flowers. The purpose of a vegetable garden is to produce food, not a pretty display. Certainly the beauty and fragrance of flowers sooth our souls, but to nourish and sustain us, we need food. What will the fruit look like? Be prepared. Watch for it. As believers, the fruits of the spirit should become evident in our lives.
9. Process the fruit. You have a basket of fresh vegetables from the garden. Congratulations! How will you make it last? Our spiritual fruit is people God has saved through our witness. “Picking” them isn’t enough. Take the extra steps to disciple them and preserve them for heaven.
10. Save the seeds. Make sure the fruit is viable and can produce more. Every kind of seed takes different preparation. Legumes and grains seeds dry on the vine. Potatoes grow plantable eyes. Carrots grow seed the second year. Squashes must be cut open to release their seeds. Tomato seeds require an intensive fermentation process. Whatever spiritual fruit you’ve gained, encourage the plants to re-seed themselves!
Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds” (John 12:24).
Gardening can be a gateway to eating what’s available year round. If you’re interested in seasonal eating, sign up for my newsletter and receive a FREE gift, Seasons from My Kitchen.