Life Lessons from the Garden
Oh, friends, I have had this on my heart for a while. It’s not always easy to put in written words. But, I hope you’ll join me today for a post that’s a little different from the typical tablescapes and DIYs. I sincerely hope this will be the first of many ‘Coffee with Cathy’ chats that we can have about Jesus and what God is teaching me during this new season of my life. So grab that afternoon cup of decaf, and let’s dive in.
What God is Teaching Me Through My Garden
They say having a garden is therapeutic, and over this past season I have learned just how true that statement is. I’ve learned a lot this summer about becoming a plant lady. But at the same time, I’ve learned a lot about both myself and my savior through the process. Here is a little glimpse at what I think God is teaching me through my garden this season.
1 | Just like a garden, your life has seasons.
Jesus told his disciples in John 16:33, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
Jesus didn’t say we might or possibly have tribulation in our lives. He said we will. That is a certainty in a world broken by sin. So just like a garden, our life will have seasons. We will have ‘good’ seasons as well as those we deem ‘bad’. We will have days marked by sunshine and others filled with raging storms. In our lives, there will be seasons of growth and flourishing. But there will also be seasons where we may suffer (wilt) and be brought back down to our roots and our faith’s foundation (Jesus).
At that point the choice is yours. Will you run from God or to God? Will you allow God to grow you again? Or will you continue to wilt until you’re dried up and let this broken world consume you?
When I was growing up and I use to ask my mom why bad things happened to ‘good people’, she explained to me that sometimes God allows us to be broken down to a point where we have no place to look but up. I definitely felt that way when Layne died. I laid in the hospital overwhelmed and broken like, “Okay, God. If you use broken things, here I am.” And I’ve learned over the past 6 months that (like a garden needs water) even the storms and rain are necessary to grow — not only in ourselves but also in our walk and our relationship with Jesus.
Thankfully, we can “be of good cheer” because Jesus overcame this broken world through his death on the cross and resurrection. Reading through the Psalms, I never really knew what having ‘joy in our salvation’ (Psalm 51:12) or ‘joy in our suffering’ meant until I was broken. I mean, it’s called suffering for a reason. It just flat out sucks. But it means that, while I may be broken and suffering, I can have the inner joy that only comes from our salvation in knowing Jesus. A kind of joy that gives peace that surpasses all understanding and a hope that this isn’t it for you or me. God uses all things for for good. (Romans 8:28) Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. (Psalm 30:5)
2 | Pruning is a part of the process.
Jesus said in the gospel of John, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:1-5)
I have to admit, I had never caught this before when reading John until I was studying it recently for my weekly ladies bible study. Whether you’re working in the garden or God is working on you, pruning is a part of the process. If you’re not a gardener and not familiar with pruning, here is the definition that may change your view on this verse.
Pruning – the horticulture practice involving the selective removal of certain parts of a plant, such as branches, buds, or roots. (At the time of year that Jesus spoke this to his disciples, the branches of the grapevines would have been budding in Jerusalem.)
Just like in a garden, you can’t grow and bear more fruit without pruning. Pruning is a part of the process – for everyone, even Christians. God is shaping us and ‘pruning’ us – and I guess that would also mean taking away things we deem ‘good’ and ‘healthy’ so that we are able to grow and flourish more than we were before. Everyone gets pruned, but as a Christian your fruit will get used for the kingdom and for His glory. God sees the bigger picture as He tends His garden. We are to trust His heart when we are unable to understand or trace His hand in situations and seasons of our life.
3 | Water is needed to grow.
In the same section of verses I highlighted above, Jesus also said, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4-5)
One big thing I’ve learned over the past 6 months is that even the storms and rain (and all those things we deem ‘bad’) are necessary to grow — not only in ourselves but also in our walk and our relationship with Jesus. Like a garden needs water, I need water to grow. Because like Paul wrote in Romans 5, “…tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Except my water doesn’t come from a garden hose. It is the living water that flows from Jesus. For without Him we can do nothing. Without Jesus, without water, we are unable to grow and bear fruit.
John 4:13-14 | “Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”
John 7:37-38 | “…If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (the Holy Spirit)
4 | Have patience in the process, and have faith and trust in tomorrow.
I wouldn’t ever say that I’ve been mad at God with my situation. I sincerely would like to think my emotions have always been pointed at my situation rather than Him. But since this has all happened, I feel like I definitely relate with Job on a more personal level. One of the things I found that I was wrestling with God about after Layne passed away was that I didn’t understand. I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. I didn’t understand why this had to be part of my story, and I didn’t understand why I was put in this boat.
A wise gardener plants his seeds, then has the good sense not to dig them up every few days to see if a crop is on the way. Likewise, we must be patient as God brings the answers… in His own good time. – Quin Sherrer
Sitting in my mom’s kitchen over a cup of coffee a few weeks ago, I remember joking about this boat God has placed me in. “Can I get out of the boat? I don’t want anyone else to have to get in the boat… but can I just abandon the boat and climb in another boat?” But while I was joking, there was a sliver of truth in it. I felt like my boat was sinking in the middle of the ocean. I was so tired – mentally, physically, and spiritually. Grief was overwhelming me – causing water to come in on all sides of my boat.
But my sweet momma reminded me that I’m meant to be in this boat. It’s how I proceed with my boat assignment that’s up to me. I could let grief overwhelm me and sink my boat. Or I could call out to the One that the wind and waves know by name.
God will give you more than you can handle – because He wants you to rely solely on His strength rather than your own.
During this season, God has stretched me past my limit (and then some), and I’ve grown and learned to lean on Jesus in a way that I never have before – and in a way that I never want to stop. While some days still trigger me and remind me just how broken this world is (and I am), I am reminded just how faithful God is, even in my darkest moments. And just like Jesus calmed the storm in Mark 4:39, He has proven to be faithful when I call on Him in my storm.
As Jesus spoke to the disciples in John 13:7 saying, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.” I know those words remain true in my own life. While I don’t understand everything in my boat right now or where my boat is even heading at this point, I can trust He’s working each and every thing for good. Healing and growth is a process. What seed we sow today isn’t going to be ready to harvest tomorrow. And just like we have hope that what we plant in our garden grows, we have to have faith and trust in every ‘tomorrow’ that God blesses us with.
Well, friends, thank you for sitting down with me and hearing my heart. I pray that God used something I’ve said to speak to you in your own life. I hope this will be the first of many ‘Coffee with Cathy’ chats that we can have about Jesus and what God is teaching me during this new season of my life. Is there anything that God is teaching you right now? Leave a comment below!