Since 2022 was my worst gardening year EVER, my enthusiasm for spring and another year of digging in the dirt seems completely unreasonable. After all, 2022 began with great intentionality–an early planting of peas and lettuce and lots of faithful watering followed by thorough weeding of the growing plants.
Certainly, the plump woodchuck living under the bushes nearby appreciated my efforts. And the silent deer didn’t say much, but they left their tracks in the soft soil where bean plants had been. I think they were grateful, too. It goes without saying that when we plant the garden next month, we will be intentional about foiling the critters who make their home on or near this country hill.
Intentional Gardening in Partnership with God
It’s encouraging to note that we never garden alone, and the prophet Isaiah is beautifully expressive about the common grace of seedtime and harvest:
For as the earth brings forth its sprouts,Isaiah 61:11
and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
to sprout up before all the nations.”
Still, in my experience, “the earth brings forth its sprouts” much more reliably and plentifully when I spend the necessary time on the business end of my favorite hoe. The work of the garden is always a partnership.
God brings rain, sunshine, the rich and fertile soil with its tunneling earthworms. I bring the seeds, displace the weeds, supplement the water supply, and bend for the gift of gathering. Too, it’s no coincidence that all that mindless labor is the perfect context for reviewing scripture memory, praying for my grandkids, or exegeting my circumstances in light of what I know to be true about God. (Especially that last one…)
Intentional Spiritual Practices in Partnership with God
Standing or stooping in my garden, I portray the work that’s required for spiritual cultivation, for I believe God is pleased when I come to spiritual disciplines with the same fervor I bring to the elimination of ragweed between my tomato plants. In their new book (keep reading for my review), Glenn and Holly Packiam have framed my lived experience with this vivid metaphor:
Cultivation requires intentionality.
Fruitfulness flows from faithfulness.
Growth happens only on purpose.”
In this way, “the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up.” Just as we are called to meet common grace with hard work in the garden, we are also called to join the Apostle Paul in “struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within [us].
We bring the energy of a morning farm hand to our habits of holiness, reading the sacred text even when we’re in “the begats,” and trusting that our regular, faithful, daily infusion of truth is building for us a biblical worldview. Imperfectly, we pray for stones that look an awful lot like bread from our perspective and then trust that all the while God the Holy Spirit is “fixing our prayers on the way up.”
So, even after the Garden Debacle of 2022, I’m coming to the spring of 2023 with every intention of working hard and trusting God. And even though my own righteousness is often as hit-or-miss as a poorly-seeded row of lettuce, God promises that righteousness will “sprout” because of his character and his faithfulness to reveal his glory for all to see.
What are your gardening dreams for this spring?
What good intentions are you bringing to your walk with God?
Do I come to spiritual disciplines with the same fervor I bring to weeds between my tomato plants? Called to meet common grace with hard work in the garden, we bring the energy of a morning farm hand to our habits of holiness.Tweet
And Now, Let’s Talk About a Book with Help for Big Picture Intentional Living…
In The Intentional Year, Glenn and Holly Packiam identify and then reflect on five key spheres of intentional living: prayer, rest, renewal, relationships, and work. And the good news is that we don’t have to wait until January 1 or the beginning of a new school year to embark on a new beginning in any of these five important spheres.
The Packiams’ hopeful message embraces the power of practice. It’s absolutely true that we are continually being formed by our habits. Therefore, our ability to respond well to immediate crises or drawn-out seasons in the wilderness depends, in large measure, upon the foundation we are building on a daily basis. I found in The Intentional Year an invitation to stop on purpose, reassess my priorities, listen to the Lord, and pray my way toward freedom.
This is not a book that shouts, “Come on! You can do better!” Instead, the reader is challenged to honestly assess her foundation in prayer, rest, renewal, relationships, and work, and then find, to her surprise, that this is the path to becoming rooted in love as our primary motivation in a life that is “filled entirely with the fullness of God.”
Holding You in the Light,
“Cultivation requires intentionality. Fruitfulness flows from faithfulness. Growth happens only on purpose.” #TheIntentionalYear by Holly and @gpackiam via @NavPress #NetGalleyTweet
Come Close to the Story During Holy Week…
As a gift to my newsletter subscribers, I’ve created a collection of 20 devotional readings called Come Close to the Story, a preparation for your true celebration of resurrection on Easter Sunday. This Lenten season I invite you to join me for a daily pause—most readings should take five minutes or less—to come close to the story. In your busy life, remember that Easter is on its way. Affirm your belief in resurrection power, and then admit that without a death, there would be no resurrection.
Every month I send a newsletter with biblical encouragement straight to my subscribers’ email inboxes. Frequently, I share free resources, and the newsletter is where everything lands first. I’m committed to the truth that women can become confident followers of God and students of his Word, and it’s my goal to help you along that path.
To add this free resource to your pursuit of biblical literacy and to make Come Close to the Story part of your Lenten observance, simply enter your email and then click on the button below…
I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees. If you should decide to purchase any of the books or products I’ve shared, simply click on the image, and you’ll be taken directly to the seller. If you decide to buy, I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Many thanks to NavPress and Net Galley for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which is, of course, offered freely and with honesty.
10 thoughts on “Intentional Gardening–and an Intentional Life–in Partnership with God”
‘We never garden alone.’
You’ve packed a lot of truth in those words, friend. He is with us. Forever and always.
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Every year when we commit our garden to the Lord, I get a reboot on the truth of God’s sovereignty.
I love the quotes you shared from the Packiams’ book. I think it was Martin Luther who said that God provided the birds’ food, but He didn’t throw it in their nests. He’s provided us such rich, nourishing food in His Word, but He expects us to take it in, digest it, and apply it to our lives.
Oh, I love that quote and the image of it! Our growth is really a partnership!
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I hope your garden produces a beautiful, banner crop this year, Michele! / Our spiritual maturity and ability to handle the inevitable storms of life depend on whether we send down our roots into God’s truth, love, nurture, and support. Sounds like the Packiam’s book might offer worthwhile direction for how to do that. / I just began Ruth Haley Barton’s book, Invitation to Solitude and Silence. I intend to finish the book and am already putting into practice her suggestions (at the end of each chapter) for experiencing meaningful solitude and silence with my Heavenly Father. I’m looking forward to sending my roots down a little deeper!
I have heard good things about that book and especially appreciate your thoughts on becoming deeply rooted.
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Deep roots do make a significant difference in our lives, as I know you know well!
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[…] Intentional Gardening–and an Intentional Life–in Partnership with God. “Standing or stooping in my garden, I portray the work that’s required for spiritual cultivation, for I believe God is pleased when I come to spiritual disciplines with the same fervor I bring to the elimination of ragweed between my tomato plants.” […]
I’ve replenished the soil in my raised beds – bags and bags of goodness. A friend who’s a master gardener came by to help me re-evaluate and learn how to do things a little differently, a better kind of different. Change for a better harvest. I am looking forward to being that morning or evening farmhand, improving my cultivation skills to grow upward. What a nourishing gardening for soil and soul read, my friend!
This time of year is so full of promise! I love the intentionality of turning the soil, planting seeds, making a good home for the seedlings by yanking weeds and watering…
It’s exactly what we need spiritually as well.