Pass the Machete- Look, See, Pray

Up for a challenge? Then find an overgrown garden to bring back to a civilised state. Just over a year ago, we completed the purchase of our current home (we love it and are very grateful to be here).  Because of my health, we didn’t want a big garden. This one seemed quite reasonable- until we booked the removal company. A week before THE day, we realised the front path was only 18 inches wide- the hedges that used to be small were thick, entrenched and bossy.

A local team of gorillas came urgently with chainsaws. Result- the removal men didn’t swear at us. Smiley faces. Job done. Except…

As the spring came, went, came back, then grudgingly handed over to sort-of-summer all the shrubs and bushes left in the garden went berserk. So I went to work. Two old-and-now-defunct lawnmowers later- they died- some well-blunted blades, and a collection of aches and blisters later: I discovered the garden was bigger than we had thought. Chopping back the jungle vegetation opened up new areas to be dug, weeded, and planted. I want a gardener. (Only joking, Juliet…)

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Here’s the bonus. I have discovered TEN roses where I thought there were only three. Overgrown and stifled, they are now rejoicing in light and air- and are providing beautiful buds & blooms.

Two of them are still in a pretty bad way. Some tender loving care and responsible pruning is needed.

Thinking about my gradually transforming garden is giving me a life-lesson. This garden was planted with love by enthusiastic owners who grew old as the shrubs and conifers spread up and out. A few self-seeded new arrivals made a bid for sunlight. Brambles “berried themselves” in amongst the proper bits of the garden. They are MUCH harder to get out than they were to get established. Doing nothing for several years gave licence to spread.

Part of prayer is being reconciled to God as we admit our weaknesses, failures, and sin. In such confession we let Light into our lives; and that Light promptly shows up other areas where God loves us too much to leave us unchallenged or unchanged. As we see these challenges,  God works within us by Holy Spirit power, bringing us into both  realisation and experience of saving grace through the death and resurrection of Jesus.

I’ve just described in gardening terms the process of repentance: changing our mind, our life-direction, our purpose, and the “fruit” of love that follows. We become holy.  People should see “roses” blooming where before there were only thorns. It’s not a one-off moment of forgiveness- but a new way of forgiven living. As we learn to live in an orderly planting, we blossom and flourish. The longer we leave the “clear-up” the more tangled and choked the garden becomes.

Before the end of the week- have a look at your garden, or at least a local garden, and assess the need for clearing the ground. What good might be revealed?  If your “patch” is in pretty good order, have a look at the “roses” you have found, and do some thanksgiving. How is God making OUR lives more beautiful?  How well can others “see” Jesus in us? Over to you- mind the thorns on the brambles and old roses!  As the old and unsatisfactory is cleared away,  thank God for new beginnings. Jesus once said “My Father is the Gardener.” Gardeners prune as well as plant…

John 15:1-4 (New Living Translation)
“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.”

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Text and photos (c) 2018 Richard Starling

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