My vegetable garden failed this year. I guess technically it wasn’t a total failure since it did produce some food… a couple of watermelons, a mess or 2 of beans, some zucchini and enough tomatoes to make our favorite bruschetta a few times, and to adequately satisfy my summer craving for tomato sandwiches. But this year’s harvest wasn’t nearly what I’ve had in the past seasons, and certainly didn’t pay off enough to equal the amount of time, effort and money we put into it all spring and summer. I’m not sure what the actual issues were/are that kept the yield low. All I do know is that by mid-August, when I should be still getting enough tomatoes, peppers and a few other things to keep me happy, my garden was dead. Not slowing down or fading or mostly over. It was brown, crunchy and D.E.A.D. For a garden girl like me, it has been disappointing, to say the least.
So last weekend,we donned our gloves and work clothes and began the long process of pulling up dead vines, clearing out the overgrown rows, and removing the stakes and growing fences. Then Clif cranked the tiller and churned the roots, broke up the ground and laid the groundwork for the only thing left to do. Start over.
But this one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead… Phil. 3:13-14
Can you look at your life and see a parallel to my garden dilemma? Are you tired of working hard and seeing little return? Maybe fruitlessness has set you back and now you are frustrated, afraid, discouraged, or worried? Or perhaps you just feel entwined by the remnants of harmful habits, behaviors and attitudes that keep you from flourishing. Whatever the root cause of your lack of productivity, I bet that a ‘do over’ sounds attractive.
if so, let me share some good news: What we did to our garden, God offers to do to your life. It doesn’t matter how old you are or how long you’ve been struggling or what state your life is in… The promise of Scripture is that you can make a fresh start!
When you finally get to the point of frustration and exhaustion, you don’t have to give up. Let your repentant heart cry out for mercy, forgiveness and restoration, and trust the words of Jesus who declared that “whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” (John 6:37) Whatever the state of your situation, you can know for certain that God’s “mercies are new every morning.” (Lam. 3:23)
However, it may be that to see a needed transformation, God might require something akin to our weekend work project. That is, roll up your sleeves and cooperate in the hard work of removing the dead and broken remains of bad habits and attitudes. It may mean scraping away a harmful relationship, withdraw from an ungodly work environment, or learn to radically give grace and forgiveness to those who hurt you. Even though it’s difficult work that requires diligence and commitment, when you give yourself to the care of the Master Gardener (Jesus) you can trust that a new crop will be coming. He will sow a field of righteousness that will produce a harvest more bountiful than you can imagine.