I love the idea of growing my own food.
I love digging my hands into the dirt for the first time each spring.
I love seeing the blossoms with their promise of fresh veggies.
I love to pop fresh cherry tomatoes straight from the vine into my mouth (don’t worry … no pesticides).
I hate having to weed out all of the junk before I can plant.
I hate troubleshooting soil imbalances that cause “failure to thrive.”
I hate having tons of blooms that never turn into veggies.
I hate bending over those boxes to prune and weed when it’s 90+ degrees outside.
In other words, I enjoy the end product and the idea of gardening far more than I love putting in the actual work. Unfortunately, no work means no fruit. Or veggies.
And that’s pretty much how it works with life, too. Growth doesn’t happen without effort on our part. It requires nourishment, training, pruning and, often times, a hefty dose of problem-solving, re-evaluating and do-overs.
As we explore the idea of growing on the Middle Places blog this month, I can’t help but be excited. Growing holds so much promise!
I used to wonder what I would be when I grew up. I even posed this question in the fairly recent past, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, yet truthfully wondering. I wanted a goal to shoot for, an end product, to know what the fruit of my life would be, what I would be known for at the end of my days.
What I’m learning is that I am and always will be in the middle of growing as a person. That’s almost a relief. But it also sounds like hard work.
The thought used to make me anxious, causing unrest or discontentment in my life. I wanted to be somebody important, to have a well-defined purpose and plan for this life. I wanted to know what my legacy would be so I could get started working on it now, thank you very much.
Then I turned 40. Something clicked in my brain … or maybe in my soul. Rather than longing for a clear view of what I will be, I am now learning to revel in the growing process. It’s sometimes uncomfortable … I’m not going to lie. But there’s hope in it, too.
I have no idea if it was simply the act of turning 40 (it seems to have been a year of epiphany for many of my peers, not just me), or simply that I am finally becoming comfortable with the person I am. I’m so relieved to have finally let go of this 20+ year quest to find my purpose in life and just learn to be content with growing.
One of my favorite parables Jesus tells is of the sower and the seeds. This story particularly refers to the fact we get to share the Good News. How sometimes it falls on soil that is full of weeds and gets choked out. Sometimes it falls on dry, cracked soil and is gobbled up by birds before it can find it’s way into the dirt to even start growing. Sometimes it falls on the perfect soil, takes root and flourishes. I received that Good News in my own life many, many years ago.
But along the way, I’ve seen this concept from the parable to be true in my life over and over, not just with embracing Jesus as my Savior, but with various lessons of the heart. Sometimes I’m completely open to what God is trying to teach me at a given moment. The principle takes root, I faithfully tend to it and it flourishes is my life. But sometimes (often, if I’m truthful) I’m stubborn. I don’t want to experience growth. My heart is hard with pride or cluttered up with the things that are important to me, and crowd out what God wants to flourish in my life.
Ever been there?
Thankfully the Holy Spirit is patient … much more patient than I am with my garden. And myself. He won’t give up. He gives boundless, extravagant, messy grace to us as we continue to grow and live in Him. He promises to never leave us exactly as He found us, but to continually help us grow.
Growing is hard work. But there's a promise of becoming more, of bearing fruit. That gives me hope.Click To Tweet
You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live Him. You’re deeply rooted in Him. You’re well constructed upon him. You know the way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. (Col. 2:6-7, MSG)