Sunday, November 21, 2004

Becoming Good Soil in God's Garden: The Process of Becoming Fruitful

The process God uses to make a fruitful Christian is a lot like the process for making a fruitful garden. Both involve significant change and both take time.

Making a fruitful garden
There are a number of separate steps involved in creating a fruitful garden.

First, the gardener dedicates the space to that purpose, moving what is there to make room. This can be big project it its own right, depending on how the space was used, but it must be done because crops can’t grow with something else in the way.

Then the gardener must work the soil, turning it over and breaking it down to a workable texture. This can be a very difficult process, depending on how thick the existing vegetation was and how compacted the soil had become, but there is no getting around this step either.

After that, he must remove things in the soil that will hinder the crop’s ability to put down roots, things like rocks and other junk buried over the years. They’re invisible until the soil has been turned and tilled, but they must be removed if the garden is to reach full potential.

Once that’s done, the gardener must add things for the soil to produce at the desired level. This can be all manner of things, from compost, to various kinds of fertilizers, to manure, depending on the state of the soil and what the gardener wants to grow. Soil rarely can produce as expected without these amendments.

Then time must pass. An experienced gardener prepares his ground in the fall, allowing time for the amendments to add their benefits into the soil as the long winter months creep by. Once spring arrives, soil and air temperatures must reach the right levels before seeds can be planted with any prospect for success. And after that, it takes time for the seeds to germinate, and even more time for the plants to mature to fruit bearing.

Making a fruitful Christian
God usually puts us through the same steps.

First, He takes action to dedicate us to the tasks He has in mind, which almost always requires that other things be cleared away. Those things may be relatively minor, or they may take a lot of time and effort to get rid of, but either way they have to go make room for God’s purposes.

Then He starts to dig into our lives, breaking up our thought and behavior patterns, tilling us into the right texture to receive the things necessary for a good crop, and removing the subtle, but harmful, things that hinder growth. This definitely isn’t easy, but we can’t produce to God’s level if we remain compacted or have rocks where roots must grow.

God also adds the things we need, but lack, to produce what He’s looking for. Sometimes that’s pleasant, like the rich humus of His word, good teaching, and Christian fellowship. But sometimes—in fact most times—we also need the spiritual equivalent of manure. What ever they are, we can be sure we’re better off with than without them, no matter how unpleasant they might seem at first.

And as with a garden, it takes time for things develop into fruitfulness. That can’t be rushed, but can only happen when conditions are right. Fortunately, He always knows when that is, and it’s always worth the wait.

(Images about gardening or soil related themes were posted October 3c, November 21, December 8, 2004 and February 28, June 11, 13 and 24, 2005.
Images about conforming/yielding to God were posted September 12a, 18a, 18b, 18d, and 23; October 3 and 3a, November 6; and 21, December 8, 12, and 15, 2004 and January 10d, February 18, May 11, June 18 and 27; August 21 and 27; and October 3, 2005.
Images about patience/waiting on God were posted October 1, November 21, December 8, 2004 and June 11, 18, and 24, 2005.
Images about the benefits of eliminating things that distract us from God/His purposes for us were posted September 18d, October 3a and 14, November 21, December 8, 2004 and February 28 and August 3, 2005.
Images about God providing things we need, but can’t provide for ourselves, were posted September 12a, 17a, and 18c, October 3a, 3b November 6, 10, 21 and 27, 2004 and January 2, 10b, and 10c, June 13 and 27, 2005.)

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