Gardening with the Gardener

This time of year I tend to focus a lot on nature.  New growth, baby animals, warm weather - it's amazing!  I think God must have known how much the world we see would affect us as He uses so many nature analogies to help us understand who He is.  For instance, John 15:1-8 in which we learn that God is the gardener, Jesus is the vine and we are the branches.  I know, you've probably heard that before, but stop and think about it...

God is the one that sees to it that we have what we need to grow.  The gardener carefully determines the soil conditions.  He then evaluates the amount of sunlight that the area gets and the amount of rain that it receives.  Based upon those things the gardener either chooses to amend the soil and provide extra water or he chooses the plants that will thrive in the current conditions.

Our life isn't much different than the garden plants.  God has determined each aspect of our life, from when we will be born, where we are born, and the family we are born to.  He either amends our life through our friends, our church, or our life situations to encourage our growth, or He  places in us a character that will grow strong in the situations we have been placed.  Either way He perfectly orchestrates things to encourage us to bloom.  He even takes things a step farther to ensure our spiritual health...

God has grafted us into a perfect vine, Jesus.  Grafting is an amazing gardening trick.  The gardener chooses a rootstock that is mature, able to provide all that the final plant needs as far as nutrition is concerned, contains the characteristics that the plant being grafted to it lacks, is strong, and is resistant to disease.  I am so thankful that Jesus does these things for me!

And grafting has some amazing results!  Plants that are grafted are able to produce fruit sooner than if they were left on their own.  These plants can survive in environments that they would be unable to were it not for the root stock.  They are now able to resist diseases that would have otherwise decimated them and they are stronger and sturdier.  Grafting is also used to repair damage to the original plant.  Sounds a lot like what Jesus does for us as well.

Grafting also requires that a portion of the plant die, much as we are called to die to self and allow Christ to live in us. (Galatians 2:19-20) We have to let go of the portions of us that are not beneficial and surrender to the life giving power of Jesus.  Only then can we claim the benefits of the vine and begin to bear fruit.

But not all grafts "take".  Some plants seem unwilling to join with the rootstock and those portions whither and die.  We too can choose to not join with the Vine.  Our Gardener creates an ideal situation, aligns things up perfectly for us to receive the gift of life, and yet He loves us enough that He doesn't force us to accept what He has done.  He allows us to refuse the gift, knowing that in the end it leads to death.  It isn't His desire for that to happen, but He does desire real love from us.  Can it truly be real love if we don't choose Him?

God is orchestrating things in such a way that you will be able to survive the storms of life.  Not only so that you can survive, but so that you can thrive and bear much fruit.  He is an excellent, careful, and attentive gardener.  You need only allow Him to do His work.

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