I love to watch a friend of mine garden. She snips this, and pulls that, and plants where the sunlight can be most effective. She fusses particularly with her stunning roses. People actually stop and ask her secrets for such an abundant display. Her goal is to raise the most beautiful roses possible. And, like a woman on a mission, year after year she succeeds.
If we are on a spiritual journey we are continually being refined and redefined through God’s parameters. Having an open heart and mind are ways in which we can grow under God’s constant care and guidance. Like a gardener, he is always clipping this and pruning that and rearranging the landscape of our souls through his Spirit. As you read scripture there is a conviction or insight poised and pointed right at our hearts on every page. We have a choice to make. Do we simply turn the page and think it was written for someone else or accept the challenge to let the gospel prune our hearts and change our perspective so that God’s light and grace can grow us in his image?
The beauty of keeping in spiritual check is that we don’t have to mutilate ourselves mentally because of our humanity. No, that’s not what this process is all about. We can take the awareness of our thorny attitudes and behaviors to the cross of Christ and ask the Lord for some help and strength to be more like him. Then ever so gently, we can try to follow the gospel more closely with his help. We are works in progress. This is a journey, not a final curtain call. That’s why it’s comforting to read the parable in Matthew 20:1-16 about the laborers in the vineyard who are given the same wages starting late in the day as the ones who began in the morning.
The moral of the story is that it’s not too late for us. That’s why this walk of faith is good news! God gently makes us aware of our imperfections, and shows us a better way to live and grow under his direction and light. It doesn’t matter about our late coming to him, our sinful nature or our imperfections. It matters that we wake up and strive to realign with his perspectives through his grace. It’s exciting! It gives us hope as we struggle living the gospel one gentle snip at a time. With each alteration we become the people we were always meant to be – the roses of his garden, clipped and pruned through the grace and goodness of God – our constant Gardener. Then, like my friend’s garden, through the way we live and grow in grace and display the good fruit of our labors, other people will be drawn to the many reasons why faith matters and join in living in the garden of God’s love, clipped and pruned in his beautiful image.
Rom 8:29-30: “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”