I have just finished my annual weeding of the flower gardens.
Good-bye, dandelions, twitch-grass, and a bunch of other little green sprouts that are probably things I paid money for last year but I now have no recollection of planting.
And to the perennials who really gave it a good shot in this, the garden where flowers come to die, I bid you farewell as I heave your sad, crusty carcasses into the weed pile. I’m sorry your efforts were all for naught.
To the hearty few, the strongest of the strong, who have survived by stubbornly defying death year after year, I greet with a maniacal smile as I lop off your dead ends and dare you to bloom once again.
Yes, this sums up my gardening skills. A couple of hours and that about does it for me. Maybe one day in the next few weeks I’ll randomly plop a few annuals in here and there, thus completing my signature gardening strategy for the summer.
I should probably be embarrassed. But I’m not. Except when my mother-in-law visits. She can plant a rock and make it burst into glorious bloom. And her growing season – yes, even in Canada – extends from early March to late November. Her gardens are spectacular. Seriously, she could charge admission to her yard. But that is not my point.
My point is that my gardens suck grub guts and I know it’s because of my intermittent (at best) attention. I like the idea of having a beautiful garden. I have great appreciation for beautiful gardens. I am in awe of people who are able to plan ahead so that they have different things in bloom all through the spring, summer and fall. But when it comes to actually doing the work for myself…meh. I’m willing to have the trashy yard that makes my neighbours look all that more accomplished.
And there you have a brilliant (if not completely original) analogy for our spiritual lives.
I am 36 years old. I have had a relationship with Jesus for almost 33 years. After all that time of loving Him, reading the Bible, going to church, I should be a lot better than I am now. I should know more of the Bible. I should be more like God. I should be more loving and merciful and generous and patient already!
I know there are a lot of people out there who didn’t come to know God until much later in life. And there are a lot of people who knew God, but then went through years of not following Him. I don’t have those excuses. I started early and I never had a rebellious period of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. (Although, if you ask my parents, they probably had serious doubts when I started falling for this lanky guy who had a mullet and Jimi Hendrix t-shirts and his own car. They surely thought his only purpose in life was to boost me into my handbasket. Yeah, he turned out to be pure evil. Good thing I didn’t marry him. Ahem.)
So, 33 years of following Jesus with no major rebellious phases (my development of an appreciation for classic rock and blues notwithstanding) and here I am. Not perfect. What’s with that?
Oh yes, I know what’s with that. Perhaps the lack of attention. Kind of like my garden. Why do I sometimes let myself think that a good burst of spiritual weeding will keep me holy for a long time? Why do I get fertilized on Sundays and then not bother to water throughout the week? (That is not a commentary on the quality of preaching at our church. I love the preaching at our church!)
I cannot just admire the beautiful, productive spiritual lives of my neighbours. If I want my life to look like that, I have to put in the work. Sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes I’m tired or distracted. Sometimes (dare I say it?) there are parts of the Bible that are really boring. But I want to be more like Jesus. More than anything else in the world, I want to be like Jesus.
So here I am, putting it out there on the world wide web. Go ahead and ask me anytime how I’m doing and what I’m learning. If I don’t have a decent answer for you, you can make me eat a worm.