Saturday, February 15, 2014

God: The Companion Planter

Over the last few weeks, I've been examining the conditions that must be present for seeds to grow and drawing spiritual applications from these conditions.  Earlier, I stated that to thrive seeds must...
  • be planted in the right kind of soil
  • be placed at the right soil depth
  • be situated to receive appropriate sunlight
  • be spaced adequately apart
  • be distanced from certain other plants
While I believe these statements to be true regarding physical seeds, I think that most are also true about the way God plants seeds of truth in our lives.  As the Master Gardener, God prepares the soil of our hearts to receive truth and plants the seeds of truth at just the right depth and location so that these seeds will begin to grow--if we allow them.  I'm frankly wondering, though, if the analogy breaks down at this point.  Does God plant seeds of truth so that they'll "be distanced from certain other plants?"  I'm not sure.  

The practice is certainly applicable in the vegetable garden.  A quick web search reveals many lists of good and bad companion plants.  For instance, Burpee Home Gardens asserts that these plants aren't good companions:
  • onions and beans
  • tomatoes and cabbage
  • cucumbers and aromatic herbs
  • cabbages and dill, strawberries, and pole beans
As their website indicates, such plants should be "placed in different gardens or opposite ends of larger beds." Why?  Answers vary.  Many websites simply state that onions and beans, for instance, are incompatible. Others say that onions and beans will stunt each others' growth.  I have yet to find a definitive answer.  

When it comes to the planting of truth in our lives, God certainly may choose to withhold some truth until we're ready to bear it (see John 16:12) while at the same time allowing us to accept or reject that truth (see James 1:22-25).  God, as sovereign, may also orchestrate events in our lives to limit our exposure to untruth--those "incompatible plants" that would stunt spiritual growth.  After all, everything "pertaining to life and godliness" is a gift of God (see 2 Peter 1:3-4). 

As my examination of God as the Master Planter comes to an end, I rejoice in my relationship to this loving, faithful, knowing, careful Gardener!  

Thursday, February 6, 2014

God: The Master Planter

You've followed these familiar directions, haven't you?    

  • Sunlight: Full
  • Plant Depth: 1/4"
  • Plant Spacing: 6-12" 

Last week, I last wrote that seeds must not only be planted in the right kind of soil, but must also be placed at the right depth, be situated to receive appropriate sunlight, and be spaced adequately apart. I'd like to examine these aspects of planting in relation to how seeds of truth are placed in our hearts by the Master Gardener, God.  

While learning to garden, I've placed seeds in the wrong places many times.  Several seasons ago, I planted lettuce in pots on my deck.  Because the lettuce seeds were so small, I sprinkled them into place before covering them lightly with soil.  The lettuce germinated well and soon began poking through the surface.  It quickly became apparent, though, that thinning would be necessary.  If I had taken the time to appropriately space the seeds when planting, it would have saved me painstaking effort later.  At other times, I've planted seeds so close to the surface that the birds have eaten the seeds or so deep that the seeds have failed to sprout.  Over time, I've learned to be more careful about the placement of my seeds.  

As an all-knowing gardener, God hasn't had to learn by trial and error how to impart truth. Because He knows the hearts of men, He is always able to plant truth in the right place at the right time. Consider this passage from John 16.
12 "I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear [them] now. 13But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth..." (

In this passage, Jesus revealed the care He took in planting truth in the disciples' hearts. Understanding that they were unable to understand or apply certain truth at that time, He withheld that information until they were prepared to grasp it.  To me, this parallels with the care needed in planting seeds. God plants seeds at the right depths: He doesn't give us deeper truth than we can handle with grace. God plants seeds adequately apart: He doesn't dispense truth faster than we can grasp it or apply it. God plants seeds where they'll receive enough sunlight: He knows the receptivity of our hearts and will grant truth accordingly.  

I should note, of course, the contrast between garden soil and the human heart.  Unlike soil, the heart can reject seeds of truth. Hence, even if the Master Gardener reveals truth in the right place and at the right time, we can ignore the truth or consciously reject it. If we are insensitive to the speaking of the Spirit or are failing to walk in the light already provided, the seeds of truth may lie dormant--never to spring into life. Only when we nourish the truth that we've been given will that truth grow to produce fruit in our lives.  

Will you accept the seeds planted by the Master Gardener?