I love flowers. I delight in flowers. I find a tremendous amount of joy in looking at flowers, caring for flowers and watching plants transform from ugly tubers or seedlings into works of art. The amazing fact that some also have a heavenly scent is just too wonderful for words. I find pleasure in perusing garden catalogues, garden books and garden websites. I enjoy doing research to find the perfect plant for that particular spot in the ever-changing, always-evolving painting that is my garden. Except for being pregnant, gardening is the closest thing to participating in a miracle that I have ever experienced.
Growing flowers, however, requires getting dirty. Flowers grow in dirt, and playing in the dirt is messy. Digging, planting, pruning, weeding, mulching, feeding and watering will produce dirt, sweat, aching muscles and, eventually, hopefully, God willing, flowers. While generally fairly well groomed, I get very sweaty and very dirty when I am gardening. It isn’t pretty, but it is worth it. Ninety percent of the time, I am extremely happy while working in the garden, despite the sore muscles and dirty clothes. The other 10 percent of the time is just hard work that has to be done in order to achieve the intended goal, so I grit my teeth and get it done. Sometimes, especially this time of year, I can’t wait to get out in the garden, and I am happy from the moment I begin. Other times, it seems a big hassle to change clothes, get my tools and gloves and set aside my other activities long enough to garden. Yet, once I get started, I lose myself in the task at hand and find the joy that I knew was waiting there all along. As the season progresses, the hard labor of the spring transitions into the maintenance tasks of summer. In the height of summer, a little weeding, a little feeding and a little watering are mostly just good excuses to be closer to the explosion of flowers and the butterfly friends that they attract.
Passion and a willingness to get dirty is all I really bring to the equation. The transformation of ugly dirt into colorful blooms is entirely God’s job. No matter how hard I work, I can’t create a single flower. What I can do, however, is provide an environment where God can work his magic. Providing fertile soil, planting flowers in the appropriate aspect, making sure the weeds don’t get too thick and the plants don’t go too long without water are my attempts at participating in the miracle of creation. Because he loves me and he placed a creative spark within me, God allows me to get involved in the details of his masterpiece. Would daylilies look good next to the coneflowers? Which attracts more butterflies: shasta daisies or black-eyed susans? Can I possibly get away with another purple flowering plant without it just being ridiculous? Sometimes my experiments work out beautifully, other times I learn that certain plants prefer slightly different treatment and I choose to rip them out and move them to another place in my garden or dispose of them entirely. As I travel further down this gardening path, I become a little wiser, a little more experienced and a little braver about trying something new. Sometimes, despite my mistakes and neglect, something unplanned and unexpectedly beautiful blooms in the garden, and I am reminded once again that I never really was in charge.
I think my walk with the Lord is a great deal like my journey as a gardener. All I really bring to the process is a passion for God and the willingness to do the “dirty work” in my desire to be in his presence. Any transformation that takes place, any fruit that my life bears, is entirely his doing, his creation, to his glory. I can create an environment where I am more likely to see him work his magic, but I cannot create one single beautiful flower on my own. Some days, just like in the garden, the weather is fine and the work is joyful. Other days, the work is just hard and messy…the weeds threaten, and it is just too hot to garden. Yet occasionally, on those especially grace-filled days, in spite of my neglect, the flowers bloom and the butterflies arrive anyway.
Originally published on Grace Notes.