Sometimes we forget that planting comes before harvest. Everything we want to gather and experience begins with what we plant. It’s not a formula for getting what you what. That’s manipulation. The planting required in God’s way of getting ready for harvest is different.
Planting is more than deciding what you want to grow. You can’t dump seeds into dark, crumbly earth and expect them to grow into the flowers, fruit or vegetables you want. You have to prepare the soil. You must remove dead plants, weeds, and rocks.
God expects me to prepare a good growing space for what He wants me to plant. It means that everything that does not help me grow what God wants to plant, must be cleared away. That could include long-held goals, self-serving or self-protecting attitudes, busyness that makes me feel productive but does not lead to what God wants me to produce. In the parable of the soils, Jesus reminded us that good soil makes a difference.
When our daughter, Lisa, died; my life was an empty garden and magnified every other emptiness I encountered. Planting was not in my thoughts. Barrenness was. Even when I began to find motivation to do something, I didn’t know what to do. Tired of spending my energy that grew nothing, I waited though not as hopeful as I should have been. But I waited. I was learning that there is a season for planting. Plant out of season and you risk everything you try to grow.
Our backyard is mostly shade. I walk through the nursery and admire the bold bursts of color only to realize I can’t plant them. They take sun. So we plant lots of impatience because they thrive in the shade. On my knees in front of the hoed earth, I plant the three inch seedlings. Often it is spiritual work for me. I compare it to the impatience I have with slow moving life where I do not see the connection between planting and growth. And sometimes I wonder, if I plant the impatience from my soul, will something beautiful grow again? Will color burst? Will new life fill empty ground?
And God answers me with His resounding “Yes!” He’s the ultimate gardener. “He makes all things beautiful in its time.” But first I need to do the planting. At the right time. In the right season. In a prepared place. So I cover my “impatience” with just enough dirt to allow roots to grow. Then, I water and wait and hope something will emerge. A new attitude. A little more motivation. A new opportunity. Something that makes the waiting worthwhile.
I don't know about you, but the planting that God wants isn't as easy as it sounds. I often fear that I will make of my life what I make of my garden: an inconsistent, inadequate, incongruous attempt to make something beautiful. That’s when I realize, I am not a beauty-maker; God is. I need Him to be the ever creative Landscaper of my life to tell me when to plant what and where. Then, waiting is richer because what God plants, grows. Then, a time to plant is just another way to submit to the One who knows the seasons better than I.
So get out your hoe. It’s time to plant. But first, some things have to go. God will tell you what. Just remember that in the empty space, God wants to plant something beautiful, something you can’t grow with your own goals or will power. Something better and richer and deeper. It will be worth the work. It will be worth the wait. In His time. Always in His time.