I am trying to grow a garden where God has planted rocks.
I love to garden. Admittedly, I am not very good at it…I have 4 house plants…make that 3…I don’t think I can technically count the one that is basically dead. But I love to be outside with my hands in the dirt and the sun on my shoulders and the idea of growing the food that feeds my family. At this point it is a hobby garden, not really a sustenance garden,but still–it grows food, and we will eat it.
I even like to weed. There is something about it that is just brainless enough and yet attention demanding that makes it better than any other hand hobby I have, like knitting or crocheting. And I have to admit, that the worn out old metaphor of comparing weeds to sin, never gets dull for me. There are the little weeds that are easy to pull out…but if you let them go they multiply at alarming rates. Then there are the weeds with long twisted roots that you pull, and then find that you didn’t get the whole root the first time, so you dig and pull and fight with that weed all summer until you finally eradicate it. I pray a lot when I am working in the garden…every aspect seems to remind me of some wonderful truth of the Bible.
Unfortunately, just like me…the soil that my garden is planted in seems to be a “WORK IN PROGRESS.” And I am beginning to wonder if some ancient civilization didn’t have a skyscraper that came tumbling down where my garden now sits. There are SO MANY ROCKS! And why is it that picking rocks is just not as satisfying as picking weeds? So…I have been contemplating what these rocks are supposed to teach me. What is the appropriate gardening metaphor?
- My least favorite: It is futile…you will never eradicate the rocks…go to the grocery store. ~ This one is pretty much self explanatory.
- God really is “The creator and possessor of all things” because only a mighty God could possibly make so many rocks.
- My Favorite so far: Sometimes there are rocks in life. Little ones you can ignore. Big ones you can’t ignore. Heavy ones you drop on your thumb and wish you had never laid eyes on. But each rock, little or big or heavy, was created by God and they are under His control (remember when Jesus told the Pharisees that the “stones would immediately cry out” if the people singing praise during the triumphal entry were to become silent?). But I believe God wants me to garden, and the parable of the sower teaches me that seeds that are planted in stony ground can not establish a good root…so what am I to do? Give up? No, God promises to provide…He does not promise it will be easy. Each rock, stiff and stubborn can either be left right where it lay, and sabotage the efforts of my garden…or I can diligently place my hands on each rock and move it to what is slowly but surely becoming a very nice rock wall around my herb garden. Kind of like people or events in life. I can either leave them where they are and let them disrupt my life and make me and every one around me miserable…or I can set them aside and make something useful out of them.
Well, it would be nice if we could do that with some people.
But, events…those unpleasant, rocky, times in life that we would rather forget: the loss of loved ones, unemployment, the terrible twos, fights, down right embarrassing moments, the first gray hair–These events we can either leave in our garden of life and continue to work around them and stumble over them…OR I can move them to where they are making something useful, something even beautiful…Me. God told Joshua and the children of Israel to pile 12 stones as a memorial for having crossed the Jordan river…so that the children could be told of the things God had done for them. We are to remember the lessons we have learned and teach them to our children.
So I think my metaphor will be this: Rocks were planted in the garden by God. By His grace we can make something useful even beautiful out of them–a strong wall–a memorial–built out of life’s events, lessons and memories. If we leave the rocks in our garden of life we will sabotage our efforts to grow something lush and meaningful. But if we pick them up, look at them, decide what the shape is, what we learned from it, how it fits in the wall of other memories then we may avoid making the same mistake twice…we can pick up a “rock” and say to our children “This rock is sharp and heavy…it could hurt you…don’t play with it.” Now we could look at them and then chuck all these stinking rocks in the woods…but then we would miss out on the lovely part. Some, I admit, we don’t want everyone to see…so we put those in the middle of the wall, surrounded by the other rocks that are not as ugly…but we can still use them to make the wall. After living life for a while and having some “rocky times” we become stronger and more lovely. I mean…after a lot of work, tedious back/nail breaking work, we can make a nice little rock garden wall.