The Gardener

By: Judith Hargett

“Be careful where you plant these, Jude,” Mom cautioned me.  “They will take over.”  She suggested a pot would be the best place for the lemon plant she had sent from her garden.  She also advised digging up my canna and iris bulbs at the end of each season and replanting them in the spring.

My mother is a lifelong gardener.  Her soil is so rich I am convinced she could plant a Popsicle stick and soon find little limbs sprouting from it.  Dad was also good at growing plants.  He began farming when he returned from the War.  My parents did not, however, always share a love of the same flora. If a plant did not have a useful purpose,  Dad considered it a nuisance–just additional work for him when he was mowing.   A lifelong war sprang up between Mom’s flowers and Dad’s lawn mower.  There were no winners in this battle.  The casualties were many–cut down while they were still green behind their petals.

Unwisely, I did not take my mother’s advice. I do not have her green thumb.  My strategy was if a plant survived, it was a keeper.  I installed the lemon plant in one of our flower beds where it promptly spread like chiggers heading for a tender spot.  And I did not dig up my bulbs.  The cannas and irises doubled in number and took over their beds.   We soon had lots of foliage but few blooms.  Clearly, some serious pruning was needed.  The Lord addresses this very thing in John 15:1-2: I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.

Well, I know.  These verses require a lot of explaining, and I am not gifted in the delivery of something so complicated.  I think, without being too simplistic, I can draw the following reasoning from these verses and apply it to believers. Not only do we need to prune our gardens so they will bear fruit, we need to prune our lives of the idols that prevent us from bearing fruit for the Kingdom.  We prune, or clean, our branches from worldly things by staying faithfully in His Word.  We must tend our schedules so there is time for the most important things.  Otherwise, a lot gets done poorly.  That’s no easy task.  You discard one thing and immediately something springs up to take its place.

For example,  my sister was walking around our house one day when she suddenly reached down and yanked a vine up by its roots.  I looked at her aghast, closing my mouth quickly before the hateful little words hanging from the tip of my tongue–like so many school children anxious to tattle–could leap into action.  I had been carefully training that vine to grow into a lovely pattern.  She warned that it would soon take over everything if I didn’t act now to control it.  She was right.  A piece of it had already migrated to the canna bed where it is currently wrapping tightly around the stalks.  Now, the cannas are already getting tall enough that I’m concerned about reaching my hand under them for fear of encountering hidden poison ivy or, worse, a snake!

Thus, a reminder. Start pruning all things at an early age, when they can still be molded in the way they should go, and snakes of all forms can be avoided.  Oh.  And listen to your mother and maybe your sister . . . but not always the sister.

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