Gardening is therapeutic; I love tilling the soil. Planting shrubs, flowers, and vegetables, is rewarding and can be a school room of fresh insight.
Plants flourish when we know what they need. Perennials will return every year, if pruned and fertilized. Annuals bring joy, but, sadly, they don’t stick around very long. How surprised I was when impatiens seeds defied their cycle and returned for numerous seasons.
Soil, very important to the health of a garden, is designed to be mineral-rich. In breaking up fallow ground and removal of old life-sucking roots, room is made for expansion. Plants need protection from gnawing insects who love their tender leaves, flowers and fruit.
Pastoring is much the same. The flock, like most plants, needs tilling, extraction, protection: and thus, is nurtured. Annuals ~ those who visit for a while ~ bring joy. Perennials bring greater joy as they root down, grow and remain a part of the beauty of the garden.
The full counsel of the scriptures fed to the flock yields light, water, and food for the maturing. As a pastor, I exercise the skill of nurturing as I learn how to remove stumps, roots, and hindering clumps of clay– preparing the soil to receive more nourishment.
Pruning, though seldom welcomed, is essential. Some pruning is extreme, as in cutting near to the root system–perhaps ushering in a season of dormancy. Yet, the result is intended to promote increased fruit-bearing.
Some pruning is milder, such as clipping away suckering stems or limbs that drain life from the plant. Whether extreme or mild pruning, ministering the Word of God is intended to bring teaching, reproof, correction and training in righteousness. The plant, just as woolly sheep of the flock, is relieved of its excess and can grow into its destiny.
Admittedly, I’m nostalgic as I carry away an armful of the garden’s dead limbs, life-suckering stems, and fading flowers. I’m reminded of days when they served the garden [ or the church] well. My arms long to hold tight–finding it difficult to release the old plants to make rich compost–or letting go of the ones who will transplant elsewhere. There’s a joke around my house that I will keep a vase filled with cut flowers until the flowers become a dried arrangement.
Pastoring calls for moving with the ebb and flow of nature’s cycles. As is true for plant life, it is intended to produce from its seed, to bring glory to God–even if it springs forth in foreign soil. On a few occasions, the wind’s shift and the plant’s seed returns to our garden [church]. What grace of God it takes to accept the Master Gardener’s plan for how the garden grows.