I hope that everyone had a wonderful week. This week, I wanted to share story with you about spiritual growth — and how it sneaks up on you when you least expect it. I will tell you the story using my garden as an example.
In late spring I started a garden. I bought seedlings of plants and vegetables. My husband bought flowers and we planted them together in the garden beds. Everything looked neat and pretty, but nothing was growing. I bought a few tomato seedlings. I bought a few cucumbers, melons, zucchini, herbs, and berries and lettuce. Each day I would go out and check on the garden and then I would water it. I had hoped that I would have some lovely red tomatoes by the end of June. But I didn’t even have a flower bud. There were no cucumbers. Birds ate most of the unripe strawberries and blue berries and there wasn’t a broccoli floret or brussels sprout in sight! I kept watering and caring for the garden, even though I didn’t always want to do it. Still, no progress.
But then something amazing happened when I didn’t even see it. I had to go on a trip. When I returned less than two weeks later, you would not imagine what I found: My lettuce grew so much that I couldn’t possibly eat it all in a week. The kale grew too and had yellow flower buds on it; the blueberries were nearly ripe and the strawberries glistened and there were still some berries on the vine. I found a cucumber growing. There were tomatoes, lots of tomatoes. They were not ripe, but the green fruit was an indication of what could be a great summer harvest.
So here in lies the message. Sometimes in our faith walk, we do the work to being closer to God. We set aside time to pray to God and to meditate on his word. We live out our faith when no one is looking. We seek to serve the church and live our lives as if God and his angels are watching us (they are by the way and our friends and families too). We work in our communities to serve as the church because some of the people we interact with my never enter a church or get to know God until they see Him in us. We may also feel tired of doing work that may seem thankless. But it is not. When we least expect it or are about to give up the good work, we see a surprising amount of spiritual growth and great fruit that has developed that one day others can enjoy. In the book of Philippians, it says that God, who began a great work — us — will complete that work. We must trust that he will help us along the road to spiritual maturity and that we too will bear a garden of fruit. But we must also tend to our spiritual gardens believing that the Master Gardener knows and sees all and is helping us. In John 15:2 we learn that God is the best gardener — that he cuts off the branches in us that does not bear fruit and in the branches that do give forth fruit, he prunes them too — so that we may become more fruitful in our Christian lives. And all of our hard work and God’s pruning leads to the ultimate gift — a life with Him in heaven. Let us not be weary in growing closer to God and following the example of Christ!
So this week as you run or walk, think about how much you have grown. Don’t just focus on muscle tone or running distance, think about who you were before you knew God and how much you have grown in your faith. Think about your body, crafted by God, that moves quickly and with purpose. Think of the ways you have been blessed and how the fruit of your life can be used to bless others. Try this running meditation from the book of Philippians: “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.”
Have a wonderful week!