Lessons in the Garden
"Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits." Song of Solomon 4:16
Last month, while JeJe was in California, I agreed to the great responsibility of tending to his garden. It was a bit stressful for me. You see, I've never been able to keep any houseplants alive, let alone a whole garden.
When Elli was born, and the nurse brought her up close for me to see, I was overjoyed at the sight of her. Then I was overwhelmed at the thought of the HUGE responsibility I was just handed--the wellbeing (survival) of another living being.
Praise God for His never ending mercies and grace.
JeJe is a man of simple pleasures. He loves...
spending time alone with God
a good cup of coffee
a nap on Sunday afternoons
he really enjoys gardening.
God does nothing from coincidence. I am sure this is a gift from God to go along with His calling on JeJe's life for church planting and developing disciples for Jesus.
God's uprooting of me from my native, “year long summer” season in California--to a country with four seasons and filled with farmland and sheep--was designed by Him to speak many valuable things to me. This has been a place for me to have that extra time that God wants in order to speak to me through my surroundings and circumstances.
Here's what I've been gleaning from this season of JeJe's planting a new garden (and church), and for several weeks my being solely responsible for it.
*It's not ours, its Gods. Its ALL Gods.
“The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains, The world, and those who dwell in it.” Psalm 24:1
- No one will care as deeply about your garden as you do. You put in all the work and hours in clearing out the old dead stuff, burning the chaff, turning the soil, planting, watering, feeding, protecting (especially from insects and preying birds/worms), pruning and caring for the entire well being of your garden.
- The gardener has the greatest knowledge of his garden. He knows the soil, what seeds he has planted (and where). He knows the timing, what thrives best and where in his garden. He knows how to care for the various kinds of species he has planted. Some produce fruit, some flowers, some thorns and well, some just never take root.
- Good soil (foundation) is the most critical component of a fruitful/healthy harvest. The soil has to be turned. The sign of rich soil is worms; they are feeding off all the good nutrients.
He is the chief cornerstone. (Mark 12:10)
- Good seed. JeJe planted two types of seeds for the tomatoes. He was skeptical about one and chose to plant just a few. The other set produces the most amazing tomatoes. They melt in your mouth, and their skin is not tough or plastic-like. Hmmm...
- The gardener must keep a careful eye on the garden, especially the condition of the soil and leaves. If it's dry, he needs to water. If it's too wet, he can oversaturate and drown the plant.
- The gardener provides the best protection of the garden. He knows what predators/feeders are nearby. He observes where they can get in and takes measures to prevent them from entering. Precautions are taken against worms, insects, and more. Along these lines, he wants to protect without using harmful ingredients (such as pesticides) that would taint the quality of the fruit.
- The gardener could use synthetic products to give superior looking produce. However, once you bite into this type of produce, you already know its not what you had hoped for. It lacks the taste and satisfaction of the fruit grown without these measures. Reminds me of how many times JeJe and I have talked about what methods various churches use to draw people in and... “should we try this..?”; JeJe always responds, “God has been building his church for over 2,000 years. He doesnt need our help." He quotes these two verses
"...and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it." Matthew 16:18b
"...The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone." Mark 12:10
- The gardener knows the results completely depend on God. He causes the sun, rain, and weather to come together to help the crop along (or not...sometimes He wants you to go thru all that process, just to learn).
The garden does require the basic tasks metioned above, as well as patience & perserverence (in prayer as well as in labor) in working and waiting (not picking produce too soon from the vine or watchng some fall to the ground). The ultimate crop is from God's hand. He gets all the glory and thanksgiving.
When the plant yields a beautiful, tasty produce, nothing compares to the satisfaction the gardener gets from being able to eat from that over which he labored over, and savor a quality product. Its even better when we have so much produce we are able to bless others.
Again, nothing compares to produce that comes from a healthy, well cared for garden. Thinking ahead, JeJe will leave some of the produce on the vine to grow big. He then takes the seeds for next years planting.
I'm reminded that this isn't “my” garden. Because I was willing to come alongside and help JeJe with it (I did think to suggest someone else come tend to it, out of fear of killing it off and disappointing JeJe) I, too, have enjoyed eating from its amazing produce.
Partnering with God is very much the same, in a ministry or work He's calling us to. Be faithful to do the things you know He is asking of you. Ultimately the results are His (and if there arent any, or they are few, praise Him anyway and seek what lessons He is trying to teach you). You will get to enjoy the benefits of being a partaker with Christ.
What I first thought would be a burdensome task, became a labor of love. I wasnt doing it for anybody other than JeJe--because I love him and know how much the garden means to him. We can carry this into our love and service for the Lord. Everything we do, we do for Him and His approval and glory alone.
We pray for a bountiful harvest that we can enjoy. A harvest that will bless others with healthy produce to enjoy, and fruit/vegetables that will produce good seed for the next season.
I was so happy to welcome JeJe back to his garden.
by Coleen JeJeran, Missionary to Romania