I've always loved the idea of a garden.
In my mind's eye I can see it, sweeping across my yard from the fence post to the sidewalk leading to my front door. A gentle arc of color and texture greeting my friends and family, this garden would be a sanctuary for butterflies, birds and other little critters.
I see tall, gentle blues in the back, a scattering of reds through the middle, bluebonnets, of course (we are in Texas), and taking their spot in front, petite white flowers. Ivy and hostas would have homes interspersed among the flowers.
I've looked through bulb magazines, educating myself on what flowers like sun and which must have shade, I've walked the plant isles at Home Depot, chosen my bench, and picked my water fountain from WalMart. I've priced wood to make the small deck and trellises required to support my climbing vines. I even have the pot for the strawberry plants that will welcome me each early morning when I step out into this wonderland to greet the day and my neighbors and my God.
What I haven't done is break the soil, purchase the materials (except for the lone strawberry planter) or break a sweat. Now, before you think harshly of me, let me tell you an important piece of information: that ground is hard! No one has tilled it in...well, in at least 15 years. It has been a football field and baseball diamond for my children and a level spot for the kiddie pool they all splashed in as tots. It doesn't seem to want to become beautiful, despite my vision.
In my mind the garden is a delightful place—a refuge, a retreat, a spot of beauty. But, in reality my garden is nothing more than a patch of yard out front that sports grass and (dare I say it?) weeds. Nothing else, because I haven't made it happen. I think of the solidity of that soil, and I shrink back.
I want my walk with Christ to be a delightful, beautiful refuge, too. The kind of walk that others can take comfort in and use to find their own walk with God. An oasis for friends and neighbors, a source of strength for the weary and needy in our community.
I have a Bible. I read it almost every day. I sometimes find myself reading for mileage instead of instruction and growth. But, that's okay, right? At least I can mark my personal Bible study time off that list that I create at the beginning of each new day. I have taken numerous Bible study classes, from Experiencing God to a study on the gifts of the Spirit. I can find the location of passages in the Bible that most Christians can only guess about, and have memorized so many verses that the sheer number would impress and amaze you. I work in the church and love worship more than any other part of my week.
But have I really broken the ground of my heart? Is that soil ready for the work God wants to do in me? Have I broken a sweat doing my part to change what is inside of me now to what God sees in His mind's eye when He looks at me? Have I done more than dream as I strive to find my work in His kingdom?
I'm sitting outside this morning, looking at the sky. It is beautiful: blue with just the tiniest hint of wispy clouds, still stained pink from the sunrise. The air is touched with the first hint of fall; coolness challenges the summer heat, shoving it ever so slightly away. Birds have decided this is the perfect morning to fill the air with their whimsy, and their calls come from everywhere.
And, waiting where it always waits, is my yard—not my garden, you understand, but just my yard.
My purpose and abundant life are waiting, too. Calling me, enticing me, encouraging me to step up and break a sweat.
Today I will roll up my sleeves and accept the challenge. Today I will prepare the soil of my heart.
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