Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Grandpa's Garden

Growing up in a modest middle class neighborhood, I knew all my neighbors.  This was in part because we lived on a street that was only one block long and also because there were a lot of children on our street.  The environment allowed all the neighbors to get to know one another.  But something that made my street even more special was the fact that my grandparents lived a few houses down from ours.  I was very young when they moved in, and we were all very excited to have them so close by.  All the backyards in our neighborhood were small (except the corner lots) and each owner had to decide if a pool or a swing set would take up the majority of space in the yard.  My grandpa had grown up on a farm in Iowa, so he had farming in his blood.  He took that small plot of land and turned his entire backyard into a garden.  But this garden was his pride and rightfully so!  To this day, his garden was probably the most impressive vegetable garden I've ever seen filled with many varieties of vegetables ordered in such wonderfully neat rows.  The prized and favorite crop in his garden were the string beans.  I don't know how he did it, but he always produced a great crop of beans from the garden and would call me to come down and help snap them and in return, he would give me a great amount to take home.  Grandpa definitely had a magic touch and seemed to know how to prepare the soil to grow a wonderful crop from year to year.  Ironically, even though he spent so much time in his garden, he planted plastic flowers in the front yard flower beds!

Jesus used parables to show how God wanted to plant good things in our hearts, but He also showed that we need to have the right soil in our hearts as well.  In Matthew 13, Jesus told a series a parables to show how God's truth works in our hearts.  I would like to read the first parable and Jesus' explanation today; please read Matthew 13:1-23.  Jesus explains that there are different conditions in the soil of our hearts that causes us to accept His truth in different ways.  First is the person who hears the truth but does not understand it, so it is taken away.  This is the person who never really accepts God's truth and forgiveness.  The next is the person who does hear and accept, but because they never develop a deep faith in God, they fall away as soon as something difficult happens.  The third example is the person who accepts, but the lure of other things in life chokes out their ability to grow and bear fruit.  The fourth is the person who hears, accepts and believes God and grows in their faith.  They produce fruit in their life and produce a crop much larger than the seed that was planted.  I would even go so far as to say that this is the person who shares the truth with others because they are producing a great crop.

I will say this - no matter what type of soil is in your heart right now I believe it can change.  We can have a rocky soil or weedy garden; however, God can till and plow the soil in our hearts so we can grow deep roots and produce good fruit.  It takes work no matter what kind of soil is in our hearts.  We have to constantly weed and take out the rocks that surface in order to continue growing.  I think that is why I like this parable so much; I understand that the best gardens produce so well because of the work that is constantly being done.  We invite God in our hearts to work on the soil by reading the Bible and spending time in prayer daily.  This doesn't happen by attending church once a week or twice a month or by going to small group (all of which are things that God uses to grow us and are necessary) - this is a daily and private exercise that keeps the soil in our hearts rich and fresh.

What kind of soil is in your heart?

What are you doing each day to improve the conditions of the soil in your heart?

Are you asking the Master Gardener (God) to do His work in your heart?

This post is linked with On Your Heart Tuesday and Soli Deo Gloria.


  1. Last year, my One Word was "cultivate" and it was all about God cultivating the soil of my heart. This year my word is "useful" which I think fits so well after cultivating -- my soil is now useful and it's time for good things to grow.


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