I’ve just been gardening. Panic not, it wasn’t planned and it won’t be happening again. Where some people have green fingers, mine are black. I’ve managed to kill every kind of plant we’ve ever been given, including those funny cacti that are supposed to be indestructible. Were it not for the generous ministrations of our friends (Tilly and Carol – you legends!), a hacksaw would be needed to cut a swathe to the doorstep. (We’ve lost several postmen and any number of cats over the years. If you listen carefully at night, you can hear them scratching around, still searching for a way out).
Where was I? Ah yes, the ‘garden’. Like I say, I wasn’t planning to do anything with it, but one stray weed led to another and before I could stop myself I was ripping up everything in sight. Gardening is amazingly satisfying. Who knew?! As someone with -er OCD ‘tendencies’, the thrill of weeding and sorting an entirely new universe is just enormous. It’s a whole world of potential ‘to-do lists’ – and in it, I’m God! At Last…
Instead of pulling up the roses and watering the weeds, for the last few hours I’ve tossing snails with reckless abandon into the nearby car park. (The snails know and I know that it’s a matter of hours before they parachute back in again, but it gives me a temporary head rush to see their little bodies flying west. I’ve tried everything else – including leaving out a pint of Stella (surely beer Ritz), for molluscs. Did that work? Not a bit of it. They not only drank the stuff, but tottered cheerily back to the tomato plants, slept it off and awoke with renewed enthusiasm for the job in hand. Eating MY Plants).
And this is the most ridiculous part. Despite not having put a skerrick of effort or energy into ‘my’ garden, it arouses in me the most territorial emotions. Those plants are mine – anything that comes between them and blossoming loveliness is now my sworn enemy. When I spot those hard-shelled intruders, it’s all I can do not to light a can of Lynx and nuke them into next week. I’m angry. How dare they feast off my innocent saplings? Nipping them in the bud before they’ve enjoyed their first real summer, before those tottering tendrils take their first tentative steps. It’s wrong and it makes me mad.
On the other hand, when I see things growing, it makes me ridiculously happy. I’m thrilled to watch flowers blossoming where before there was only soil and rubble – a mini-miracle.
The garden feels like it’s mine – despite the fact that I’ve done nothing to it. And I’m jealous for those flowers, even though I wasn’t the one who planted them. Imagine how I’d feel if I’d created it from scratch, if I’d nurtured, watered, fed and sustained it? The incredible joy aroused by watching creation bringing forth fruit? The jealousy with which I’d guard it from intruders. The excitement of knowing that, even in the middle of winter or on a grey day, under the soil, seeds are germinating and growing. Or the despair and frustration when, despite your best efforts, it gets eaten up by birds, choked by weeds or frazzled by the sun. Little wonder the Lord is so jealous for His people.
When Jesus rose again from the cross and appeared to Mary, she mistook Him for a gardener. But in a sense, she was right. He made us and He sustains us – watching over and caring for us in all seasons, even when it looks like we’ll never blossom or produce any fruit. He is jealous for us too – we’re His people, bought at a much greater price than simply weeding in the rain. The God who walked in the garden of Eden with Adam and Eve came to earth to die, so that we could live forever with Him. He walks again as the Resurrection and the Life for all who trust Him. And He can be trusted.
The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.