5 Spiritual Lessons Learned from Gardening

More than pretty and tasty. These plants are teaching us.

We are new gardeners. Our insane 2010 goal of either growing or buying 25% of our families food from a local farmers market has pushed us into a crash course in agriculture.

In March and April we planted our second season of vegetables as well as double the amount of property dedicated to veggies. It’s out-of-control in a very fun way!

Along the way we’ve been learning some valuable lessons. Interestingly, these lessons have fantastic spiritual significance as well.

Here are 5 spiritual lessons we’ve learned from gardening:

  1. What you water grows. This is especially true in San Diego’s arid climate. Now that the rains have stopped, if I don’t add a plant to my irrigation system, it might as well not exist. The same is true in my walk with Christ. Areas of my life which I pay attention to… grow. Areas of my life which I don’t water… die.
  2. Weed regularly. Weeds are deceptive. You won’t notice them starting, but before you know it they are choking out your veggies, stealing water and nutrients from your plants, and reproducing. The rule in the garden is simple: If you see a weed, pick it! You shouldn’t wait for “weeding day” because by than it’ll be a lot more work and the weeds may have reproduced. The same is true in my walk with Jesus. I have to weed out sin before it becomes habit. Confession and repentance can’t be saved for Sunday.
  3. Sharing the harvest is fun. Being new to gardening and desperate not to fail, we’ve planted way too much of some things. This has lead to some massive harvests! Rather than just let that food rot, we’ve taken great pleasure in sharing our tangerines, lettuce, carrots, and other stuff with our friends and neighbors. The same is true of my time with Jesus. Now that I’ve raised my own food I get the gist of what it means to both give my first fruits to God. (First fruits aren’t always the most choice harvests, but they are the most anticipated!) Likewise, sharing the harvest of stuff God is doing in my life brings others the same type of joy that they experience when I hand them a bag of fruit.
  4. Plant in the right season. Kristen and I have a desire to plant stuff that we want to eat. While that makes sense, and San Diego is particularly forgiving since we have year-round pleasant weather, there is a big difference between something we plant that is in-season vs. something we’ve planted that was actually out-of-season. While both grow– one grows correctly while the others growth is retarded by its circumstances. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve planted an idea at the wrong time. My walk with Jesus is a constant battle between my desire to do stuff now versus waiting for the right time.
  5. Space is required for growth. We’ve been learning this the hard way. It’s hard to imagine how much room a vegetable is going to need when you grow it from seed or buy a seedling that is in a 5 inch pot. We have one tomato plant right now that was so tiny I wasn’t sure it would take off. But it has since grown into a massive bush over 5 feet tall that is choking out its neighbors! The same is true in my life with Christ. When I give people enough room (or make enough room for myself) to grow… people fill it up. When I constrict or confine growth is choked out.

By Adam McLane

Kristen and Adam live in Ahwahnee, California.

1 comment

  1. Being a hobbyist gardener, I really enjoyed this post. Every moment can be a moment to learn.

    It’s interesting that Jesus tells a parable in which the enemy sneaks in and sows seeds among the good crop, and then the master gardener tells the workers not to pull up the weeds “lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them.”

    I spent a good chunk of Saturday building an a-frame trellis and then planting some tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and herbs. As I was doing so, I was getting bitten by mosquitoes, dodging piles of ants, pulling lots of weeds, getting pricked by thorns, and it was hot enough that I worked up a sweat. I was acutely reminded of the curse:

    “cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat…”

    But since I’ve also been reading a book about the resurrection, as I was planting, I was thinking about how this can be a picture of life on this side of the resurrection. We go on planting in spite of the curse, because in the end, life has the final say.

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