I hated gardening. I don’t like getting muddy or dirty. I don’t like bugs. I don’t particularly like being outside.
I think another reason I’m not a huge gardening fan is because I’m not the most patient person in the world. So I never understood why people would buy - for example - sun flower seeds and then go home, plant them, water them, look after them for months on end. Why not just buy a pre-grown sun flower and save yourself the months of hard graft?! Now I get that for some people gardening is very relaxing and rewarding, but for me, it’s just not ever been my thing!
Two years ago, Connor and I moved into our flat, which doesn’t have a garden. Connor thought one day he would bring me home a succulent. It was a lovely thought, but I had no idea what to do with a succulent. I’d never cared for a plant before. So I put it on a shelf in our living room and I’d heard some one say that succulents don’t need that much water. So with that in mind, I was cautious not to over water it, but then a few weeks later it shrivelled up and died. I mustn’t have watered it enough and I had killed my plant! But instead of giving up, I decided to try again!
I went out and bought myself another one, took it home, put it on the shelf in my living room and I watered it more regularly. I thought I’d cracked it and was now an expert gardener! However, a few weeks later, the leaves started to fall off, and then that one died too!
As well as being slightly impatient, I can also be quite stubborn, and I wasn’t going to let these plants get the better of me! So off I went to the shop again and I bought my third succulent.
This time however, I did my research. I went online and spent ages looking at how to care for it.
I moved my plant, I put it somewhere with direct sunlight. I found out how often to water it and how much to water it, and over the next few days, weeks and then months, it didn’t die! In fact, it actually started to flourish and I began to enjoy putting time and effort into my little plant.
Within the year I noticed my succulent was getting quite big - too big for the pot it came in actually. I went out and bought a new pot and repotted it to give it space to grow bigger!
Now, I still wouldn’t say I LOVE gardening. But I have gone from hating looking after plants to having 4 succulents and orchid and a cactus, which for me, is a big step!
Why am I telling you this? Because God can speak to us through the smallest, most mundane things. See, there’s been times in my life where I have been like my first two succulents. I’ve spent time in dark places, I’ve not watered or fed my soul, I’ve not flourished in life, but in fact could feel myself getting weaker as the days go on. That’s what it felt like for me without Jesus in my life.
It’s easy to say “yeah I’m a Christian, I love Jesus...” but are you living that way? Are you spending time in the light of Christ, feeding yourself daily with His word and His presence, or are you sitting on a shelf going dry?
This reminds me of the parable of the sower found in Matthew 13: 1 - 23. I don’t have enough words to go into detail here so I’d encourage you to go and read it for yourself. But to summarise - Jesus tells the story of a man sowing seeds. When he sows his seeds they land in 4 places:
1. The wayside
2. The stony ground
3. Among the thorns
4. In good soil
The seeds by the wayside represent those of us who hear the word but don’t understand it.
The seeds on the stony ground represents those of us who hear the word but don’t let it take root in our hearts and lives.
The seeds among the thorns represents those of us who hear the word but allow worldly things to take priority.
And the seeds on the good soil represents those of us who hear the word and allow it to bear fruit in our lives.
And how do we bear fruit? By being like my succulent - spending time in His light, in His presence, being fed and satisfied by His word, and through that, allowing ourselves to flourish because of Him and all He’s done for us.
So that’s my little gardening experience. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll have a garden of my own to care for, but just now I’ll just take it step by step, plant by plant, remembering to stay close to Jesus every time I water them.