When Audrey and I drove around town for the annual “garden tour,” we saw a variety of approaches with one thing in common: The owners had invested more than money; they had invested love.
We might not have the budget or the passion of the gardeners on that tour, but we still give it our best shot. Audrey provides the vision and creativity, and I’m available to help with some of the manual labor. Together, we do what we can to keep a few plants, flowers, shrubs, and herbs alive around our home.
Frankly, Audrey is much better at it than she admits. She takes the time to do the research, and that sets us up for success. Most of what we plant ends up growing and looking great, all to her credit. So when I walk on our back deck, down by our small pond, or across the front lawn, I see planters alive with color.
Now, if you know me at all, you’ve probably never thought of me as a flower. Maybe a weed. But not a flower. Still, when it comes to my spiritual health, I can relate to the various flowers around our house and to this entire process of getting things to grow.
So here are three lessons I think followers of Jesus can take from our flower gardens:
- The environment matters. Flowers need good soil, the right amount of sun, and just enough water. Otherwise, they get sick and sometimes they die. Likewise, we need a strong local church. We need to spend time each day feeding on things like prayer and time in God’s Word. We need to fill ourselves with the things of God so we can grow like Jesus.
- We need some Miracle Grow. I have no idea what is in Miracle Grow, but I know it works. We hook a bottle to the sprayer on our hose, soak our plants and flowers and watch them thrive. The Miracle Grow of our spiritual lives, of course, is the Holy Spirit. We don’t know how it works, either, but if we tap into it, our lives will thrive. Sadly, we often neglect to ask for help from the Holy Spirit. We’re too busy with life or we decide not to seek help from something we don’t fully understand. But for followers of Jesus, this powerful force is living within us and we can and should tap into it.
- We are all gardeners. We all own the responsibility for our personal spiritual growth. Our pastor doesn’t own it. Our spouse doesn’t own it. Our mentor doesn’t own it. But we’re also called to live in community. Flower gardens don’t thrive on their own. They need help. And while we should appreciate those who invest in us, we also need to invest in others, encourage them, and, at times, provide some wisdom that supports their growth.
Notice the one thing those lessons have in common: They don’t need money; they just need love.