The exclamation points in the title above are for one of my favorite highschool teachers, Mr. Fiedler! (And also, because I am excited about my garden!) Yes, I may have left the beautiful country of the Ozarks, and the open prairie of Oklahoma, but still (with God's help) I've managed to bring a little country with me to the vastly populated community of Loma Linda California. And, more specifically, to my own little front yard and back patio! :-)
The question was asked in a recent meeting, "What is the best thing about gardening?" Immediately, I thought "playing in the dirt!" For despite the blisters, the sweat, and the incredible hard work that goes into planting and maintaining a garden, I think there is something therapeutic about getting your hands and feet in the dirt! (Or maybe it is just me! I don't know.) Anyway, the proper answer was... "Enjoying the harvest!" And as I have been enjoying not only the beauty of my flowers but also my first few vegetables, I have to agree...the "Harvest" is a pretty important part of the process.
It's encouraging to look back and see the progress that has been made...from the little tiny plants or seeds, to having fruit on the vine. And as I was looking over my gardening pictures, I thought it would be fun to post the pictures of that process. (Thus you will see the pictures that follow below!)
However, this whole gardening thing has also made me think of some other important aspects of my life...and that is of my "spiritual walk and growth."
I remember back when I was 12 years old, when I told my mom one morning, "I have decided to follow Jesus!" Things had been quite rough in my life, and I'd been really struggling with a lot of rebellion. Although I knew that surrendering to God was what I needed to do, I just kept fighting it and fighting it...and as a result, my life was miserable. (And I was making it miserable for everyone else as well!) But finally I allowed God to give me strength to let go, and I chose Him! Of course, as a result, I had such peace and happiness, and I thought, "Finally....I've done the right thing, and I'm what God wants me to be!" (Ha ha! Well, that was a beautiful first step...but it was only the beginning shoots in the spiritual plant that God wanted to build in my life.)
While things definitely improved, I had no clue how far I was away from the finish line. It wasn't until my highschool years during my time at Oklahoma Academy (one of the best things that ever happened to me) that I really began to figure out what having a personal relationship with God was all about! There, from having a roommate that spent hours reading her Bible and on her knees talking to God daily, to godly mentors and teachers, to inspirational practical Bible classes, and invigorating outreach and mission trips, I began to really see the beauty of what having a personal relationship with God was all about. While, as a child, I'd been taught by my parents to memorize scripture, it was during highschool that these very passages from the Bible and the Great Controversary really began to come alive in my life! Wow! It was sooo exciting and incredible...and I began to think, "Before I was just a child....but now, now I am really finally starting to see! Now I am really becoming the Christian God wants me to be!" (Ha ha...while more growth was taking place....I had no idea I was still only taking baby steps in the process...and this plant still had lots of work ahead!)
The years went on...and it was like with each spiritual milestone, my eyes were opened even more...and I would laugh to myself and think, "If only I had known then what I know now! I wasn't even half-way there back then!"
Somewhere in the midst of my twenties...as I fought more spiritual battles and sought to overcome character roadblocks that the devil was trying to keep ingrained in my life, I realized for the first time that I was on a spiritual journey that had no end to its progress and growth. Here, for so many years, I had been thinking, "I'm almost there now. I've almost arrived. I basically understand what being a Christian is all about!" Again and again my eyes were opened in new ways...as I began to realize the massive amount of distance that still lay before me.
Today, if I allow myself to think of the distance ahead...it can be overwhelming...yet, as I look back and realize how far God has brought me, I am encouraged. He promises in Phil 1:6, "Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will carry it forth unto completion." Praise the Lord...and not only does He promise to carry it forth unto completion, but He promises to DO that work in us! It's not through our strength, but through HIS!!
So now, instead of stressing about "Am I doing this right?" or "Am I doing that right?" or "Am I almost there now?" my goal and desire has become each day to simply "Yield and Submit to His Will" instead of my own. As a result of that choice, He has brought much beautiful fruit into my life, and I praise Him for that! But am I almost there...have I almost arrived? No!! I've got eons of years of growth ahead...and as Eric Ludy so often says, I've finally realized that this beautiful journey has only begun. So, I can't pitch my tent and settle down! My task is to keep walking, and to keep my eyes on my Savior!!
"In the city of God, there shall be no night. None will need or desire repose. There shall be no weariness in doing the will of God and offering praise to His name. We shall ever feel the freshness of morning and shall ever be far from its close...There, immortal minds will contemplate with never failing delight the wonders of creative power, the mysteries of redeeming love. There will be no cruel, decieving foe to tempt to forgetfullness of God. Every faculty will be developed, every capacity increased. The acquirement of knowledge will not weary the mind or exhaust the energies. There the grandest enterprises may be carried forward, the loftiest aspirations reached, the highest ambitions realized, and STILL THERE WILL ARISE NEW HIGHTS TO SURMOUNT, new wonders to admire, NEW TRUTHS TO COMPREHEND, fresh objects to call forth the powers of mind and soul and body...And the years of eternity, as they roll, will bring richer and still more glorious revelations of God and of Christ. As knowledge is progressive, so will love, reverence, and happiness increase." Exerpts from The Great Controversary pages 676-678
Wow! Just think of what lies ahead...whatever beautiful truths God has brought us through our walk with Him on this earth...it's only a shadow (and a black and white shadow, as I like to think) of the true glories to come!
"Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God had prepared for them that love Him." I Cor 2:9
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth (that's a loooooong long ways, if you've ever watched the Moody classics, "Journey to the Edges of Creation."), so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isa 55:8-9
Like I said, how can we imagine what God has in store for us in the future? We can't! But if we want to be there for that future, we must keep submitting to His plan here today. So, as I watch my plants grow, it is my renewed desire that He would continue to grow and shape my life to what He would have me to be for His kingdom and His glory - alone!!