Lessons from the Garden - Anything Worth Doing...
I am thankful for the time off last week and for all those who made it possible. With the boys still in school, we did not travel last week. I spent a good part of the week digging out a spot for a small garden. With all the rocks and boulders in the soil, it was slow work but enjoyable nonetheless. When we get a dry day or two, I hope to finish it up by getting the green beans in the ground.
I've worked in a garden as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories are of being three or four years old playing in my family's garden, swinging tools around and picking the squash my oldest sister pointed out to me (it was her chore, of course, but she has always been good at delegating). By the time I was ten, my father had given up on the garden himself, and I missed it. I think he gave up as much because he was tired of battling our old beat-up tiller each year as because it had broken down and needed fixing. I went to him and told him that I wanted to plant a garden. I envisioned myself fixing up and using that old tiller to create an even bigger garden than we had ever had before. My father looked at me, took a second, and then said simply, "Sure. I'll help you get started." We went out to the yard and, walking past the old garden lying fallow, came to a small spot in the yard where the ground was fairly bare. He told me to wait, so I did. I looked at that small spot a bit disappointed. Then he showed back up carrying our old shovel. He handed it to me and said, "You can plant as much of this spot as you dig up by hand." I looked at the shovel and then at that small spot - it didn't look quite so small anymore in comparison to the scoop of the shovel. I worked for weeks to dig up that small spot, but that was my first garden. In the next year, I would receive a new tiller for Christmas (an odd present for a kid, to be sure, but I did ask for it) and continue to expand the garden year after year. I would till most of it myself, but my father and I would plant, maintain, and harvest together. To this day, I still enjoy breaking ground on a new garden by hand with just a trusty old shovel.
Looking back, I wonder if my father was trying to discourage me from gardening by making it too hard or whether he just wanted to see if I was serious enough to do it the hard way. Either way, the lesson I learned from his handing me that shovel that day was this: "Anything worth doing is worth doing well, even if it's hard - and maybe especially because it's hard." We face challenges all the time, and sometimes we want to simply give up because it's too hard. Yet that may be the very reason we need to continue the struggle and to persevere - to show how much we want it and to prove to ourselves just how strong we really are.
The Book of Revelation opens with letters of encouragement, correction, and hope to seven churches. Each one concludes with a promise: "To the one who conquers will be given..." something representative of eternal life. God never told us that following Jesus would be easy or that our journeys would be free of challenges and obstacles, but God has promised good to those who conquer the difficulties of following Jesus. What we are called to do, may we do well, even if it's hard, for the rewards are great and the company along the way is good.
Blessings on the journey,
Living in Community
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