The gardener plants a speck into the ground and waits. He takes the garlic he eats, and decides to multiply it rather than consuming it. In late fall he plops it into the ground and waits for next fall.
This year I planted garlic for the first time, however in our climate garlic needs more time than other crop. Garlic needs to be planted before the first frost with the expectation of harvest in the next fall. And while I was doing that, it reminded me of the following:
Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. (Jam 5:7)
Our Lord, through His Word, makes numerous references and comparisons to farming and gardening. In fact, he created man to be in a garden setting (See Genesis 1 and 2). We were created to sow, reap, beautify, and produce. We might say that it was easy for that culture to understand all his references because they were all agrarians, but you would be wrong to think that. After Jesus tells people the parable of the sower, he says,
“To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. (Matt 13:11)
These “gardeners” didn’t understand the meaning of all these gardening parables. And so it may be with us as well.
When we plant, we plant in hope. When we bring in compost, we lay it down in hope. When we prune, we trim in hope. When we call our first potential customer, we call by faith. When we start a family, we serve in humility. We don’t know if what we’re doing will bring in a harvest, but we do it anyway because our hope is in the Lord for,
Neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. (1 Cor 3:7-8)
All of life is a life of faith and hope. Planting and reaping. Casting stones and bringing them in. Remember that he who sows to the flesh will, from the flesh reap corruption.
Before moving forward I need to take a quick excurses.
Even though we might grow some food, like the people during Jesus’ time, we might not understand, yet gardening does in fact help facilitate understanding of Jesus parables- why else would he use gardening parables to help explain a spiritual matter? If you’re a person who learns through experience, gardening might be what you need to start. And here’s why.
It seems to be easier to understand the work of the Lord through gardening, than it is when you’re running a manufacturing business. Or an accounting business. Or any business where you sell products and services without the feeling of progress, where it feels like everyone is out to put you out, and where your return is in cash money on net thirty terms.
I believe it takes a different perspective to be able to see the glory of God in a manufacturing facility than it doesn’t in a garden. Growing food is directly tied to our survival, whereas knowing your debits and credits seems to not benefit anyone’s survival in anyway. So what if I know how to enter a liability into my general ledger? So what if I know how to order material? So what if I can machine?
To help with that we need to look at our economic system from a bigger, global perspective. We can think of it as a chain of events with a Grand Collaborator who is moving the gears and guiding the disbursement of transactions in order to direct blessings toward desirable ends. It’s not that gardening is godly work and fixing cars is ungodly. Manufacturing also reflects the image of God as one who coordinates. In our current business, we can barely handle coordinating a 40 person metal fabrication business, let alone the world with seven billion.
And so we are to plant in hope. Our work is done for the Lord and it is done by faith. All non-sinful work done by faith is good work that God cares about. This work ought to be done with righteousness and justice because “The wicked earn deceptive wages, but one who sows righteousness gets a sure reward.” (Prov 11:18). When we work, we do it out of righteousness. To do the right thing is what we need to be doing. And as a man, that means gladly assuming sacrificial responsibility. The issues is an issue of faithfulness.
The gardener doesn’t know that his garlic will come up next year, but he is faithful and has faith because he has seen the work of God and his faithfulness in the past as well as he believes in God’s promises for the future. As we grow and mature, we learn to not lean on our own understanding, but to trust in the Lord with all our hearts.
So start that business. Marry that girl. Plant that garden. Train-up your children. Sow generously and sow in hope trusting that God gives the growth. Be faithful. Be expendable.
The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. (2 Cor 9:6, 10)