Saturday, June 18, 2011

Overgrown Gardens

Admiring my flower garden, I noticed that what had begun as a few visitors of creeping Charlie and clover was now a full scale invasion. My Shasta daisies, Echinacea, and black-eyed susans were up to their armpits in uninvited guests. To the untrained eye, my garden is lush, brimming with life, flower buds crowning each stem, the verdant carpet adding to the appeal. But, as I began to thin the army out and give my “real” flowers some breathing room, I realized that beautiful as they are, it is an insidious beauty, choking the life out of what was intended to be there. I pulled handfuls of clover and creeping Charlie, their tendrils wrapped around the perennials, and saw the analogy to life right there in the dirt.

Perhaps you have a few goals that you are working towards, but someone asks you to do something. It’s only a monthly commitment, so you agree. A few more monthly commitments come up, and without noticing when it happened, you have one extra activity each week on top of what you wanted to be doing. Then a guilt-inducer comes up, something you really feel like you have to say yes to, so you add some clover to your garden. All the activities are worthwhile, so you just keep plugging along. Before you know it, the one project you wanted to cultivate is being choked out by everything that didn’t seem like a big deal at the time. Our “best” gets lost in the lushness of an over-productive garden of “good.”
You’ve probably heard the saying that if Satan can’t make you bad he’ll make you busy. Strong words, and I’m not saying that the opportunities to volunteer aren’t worthwhile and necessary, but are they all yours to do? I looked at my own schedule recently, as cries for help filled my in-box from two schools, church, and various social networks, and decided that being “busy” for Jesus was not my goal. I want to be His hands and feet, but I’m not an octopus. It’s not easy to step back once committed, but after prayer and reflection, I realized I needed to let a few things go.
In the Bible, God has made it clear that we each have certain gifts to use and tasks to accomplish, and seasons in which to do these things. We need to look at our activities, evaluating with wisdom what we are cultivating. I was encouraged by Peter’s words in Acts 6. At that time, there were few qualified to present the Word with truth, but many were coming to hear it. Peter, overtaken with the physical tasks of caring for all these people, said, “It is not right that we should neglect the word of God to wait tables.” They set up others to manage these needs, while devoting themselves fully to the calling God gave them, preaching His word. Because he was true to his role, the word of God spread and many came to know Him.
I could let my garden grow out of control, saying yes to everything that wants to put down roots, or I can manage the invasion of opportunities and give the flowers God wants me to grow a chance to succeed, to reach the heights intended for them.
Will you join me, carefully cultivating the life God is calling you to?
“Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil” . Ephesians 5:15-16

1 comment:

  1. "If Satan can’t make you bad he’ll make you busy"... so true!

    Don't you just love it when God gives you a visual that just drives home what you already knew? God gave me a visual picture not long ago that involves a plant as well. I'm posting that blog next week. Jesus said that some seed "fell by the wayside," but how powerful it was when I saw that truth fleshed out in front of me.

    I love that God teaches to visual learners!