At this time of year, I begin to grow excited about the prospect of gardening. Even as the snow swirls outside my window, I'm ready to get started. No, not outside. It's much too early for that. I'll soon begin finding seeds, cleaning seed trays, filling them with soil, and planting seeds. Then, I'll set the seed trays on the warm radiator in our house near a window so the seeds will begin to sprout. The young seedlings will poke their heads from the soil in a few days, but won't be ready for the garden for many weeks.
As much as I enjoy planting and watching seeds spring into life, I really don't enjoy the next task: preparing the soil to receive the transplanted seedlings. Last season it was a laborious task. To encourage my plants to grow while discouraging weeds from sprouting, I tilled the soil with the big red monster, shaped the dirt into neat rows with a hoe, placed weed blocking fabric and mulch between the rows, and newspaper and compost on top of the rows. It sounds easy enough, but it was back-breaking labor. To get enough compost to top the garden, I drove a pickup out to our local horse race track, waited for the backhoe to fill the bed, navigated the pickup-now fully loaded--back to our urban garden, shoveled the compost onto a tarp at the front of the garden, scooped it again into a wheelbarrow, and used the wheelbarrow to truck each load down two "flights" of stairs to my garden plot. Whew! To mulch the rows in my garden, I did much the same thing, except that the mulch was light enough to toss over the fence onto a tarp before being moved up a single set of stairs up to my garden plot.
So, as an eager gardener, I loosened the soil to encourage root growth and used a weed blocking strategy to discourage competition. But did I check the soil for missing nutrients? Perform a pH test and make needed adjustments? Check acidity or alkalinity and make appropriate soil modifications? No. I enjoy gardening, but I'm frankly not a master gardener.
I do, however, know a Master Gardener. One who prepared the soil of my heart to receive the truth and encourage growth. One who called me to follow Him. One who gives me the grace to walk with Him. One who enables me--despite my weakness--to bear fruit.
As the Master Gardener, God is faithful to prepare hearts to receive the truth. His work in cultivating the soil may take different forms: He speaks through His Word. He ministers through His servants. He may get attention through trying times--the loss of a loved one, a steady income, a long-term friendship. He may prepare hearts by allowing them to suffer the consequences of sin. Regardless of the method, His cultivation of hearts is always good, for He longs for us to be His children. To enjoy the blessings of relationship with Him. To find fulfillment in His kingdom. To love and be loved by Him.
Yes, God is the Master Gardener who know just what the soil of our hearts needs to receive the truth and encourage growth. Would you allow Him to work in your life today?