God the gardener at work in our lives
Jane Clamp takes a break from her gardening to reflect on what she has learned about God from her endeavours.
Although, judging by the temperature, we’d be forgiven for thinking differently, it is spring again. Everywhere around us trees are leafing up, the grass is rampant if not verdant and dead-looking sticks are deformed with buds that promise a harvest ahead.
I’m not the world’s best gardener. I kind of ‘know what I know’ when it comes to plants, but it doesn’t stop me having a good old go. I like a productive garden so, a couple of years ago, I constructed a set of raised vegetable beds. With a bad back preventing me from heavy digging, this seemed the perfect solution. However, I haven’t had anything like perfect results.
For a start, it’s been quite hard to persuade the neighbourhood cats that I haven’t built them a convenient raised toilet. Footprints, not seedlings, adorn the soil in the early weeks. Then there’s the soil itself. I’ve used a combination of home-grown compost, some stuff inherited from friends dismantling their compost heap, and bags and bags from a lovely chap called Roy who runs a local retail outlet or two. Since my friends seem to have mistaken the terms ‘compost heap’ and ‘gravel heap,’ the inherited stuff needed sifting in a purpose-bought sieve. Despite my very best efforts, last year’s carrots still resembled a cat-o’-nine-tails and so, before planting anything this year, I have sieved and sieved again.
When it came to planting, there were some surprises on the way. It turns out I hadn’t harvested last year’s potatoes as thoroughly as I thought. I came across two absolute whoppers that had continued to grow during the autumn and winter, and so they made delicious chips one night for tea. There was also a row of leafy tops where I seemed to remember planting parsnips. Sure enough, there they were under the soil, looking most offended that I hadn’t remembered them until now.
This year, there is (potentially) cauliflower, radish, carrots, Swiss chard, spinach, peas and watermelon. There has already been a slight disaster in the labelling. I have what are clearly two identical rows of something, one stating that it’s radish, the other spinach. I plan to leave them alone until they are properly obvious. Also, some of the labels were disturbed by the cats as they were making themselves at home. It’s going to be a bit of a mystery tour this year.
I think our own Christian growth can be like this. We can plan and dream and the equivalent of hoe and plant, but sometimes we don’t get the results we hoped for. Weeds choke us. Things happen we don’t understand. Pests spoil what we’re working for.
Life can be so confusing at times, but I’m grateful that John’s gospel tells us that our Father is the Gardener. He knows what He’s doing. He watches over the seeds He’s planted within us. He doesn’t forget to harvest them. The results are no surprise to Him. We’re in safe hands!
The image above is courtesy of https://pixabay.com
Jane Clamp is Creative Writer in Residence on the Sunday Breakfast Show at BBC Radio Norfolk and on the Thought of the Day team at Premier Christian Radio. An active member of the Association of Christian Writers, she is editing a second novel, and in her spare time works as an interior designer and musician.
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