There is an old nursery rhyme that goes something like this: “Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow? With silver bells and cockle shells and pretty maids all in a row.” I’ll leave it to you to interpret what the actual meaning behind this rhyme is or was meant to be, as for now I am only intrigued by the the question, “How does your garden grow?”
This morning my pastor preached a sermon about the garden of Eden called “The Good Life: Phase 2,” explaining how God had created this incredible garden for Adam and Eve to tend to and enjoy. Likewise, God has planted a garden for each of us to tend to and enjoy. However, we too often find ourselves looking for contentment elsewhere.
The Well Nurtured Garden
Picture a well nurtured garden that you have seen. This is easy for me, having grown up on a small farm, with parents who carefully tended their gardens; my dad tended the orchard and crops, while my mother maintained a stunning array of flower and herb gardens, which occasionally even drew newlyweds for photo opportunities.
There is growth, vibrancy, blossoming, potential, tranquility, beauty and love expressed in a well tended, nurtured garden.
The Neglected Garden
Now picture a neglected garden that you may have seen somewhere. I have seen these as well, gardens left untended as generations passed away, gardens overgrown due to inattention by owners caught up in the busyness of life. Weeds are everywhere, choking out the plants that formerly thrived, vines and shrubs and various grasses growing out of control everywhere in haphazard fashion, giving the garden a run-down look.
There is choking, anxiety, depression, unrest, ugliness and the pall of death expressed in a neglected, abandoned garden.
The Inner Garden
Now, pause and reflect on your own life, your inner self, and picture the garden planted in you. How does your garden grow? Does it grow more like the one nurtured or the one neglected? The good news is that your actions right now, and each moment of your life can affect how your garden grows. You can begin tending it and bring it back to life and vibrancy, or you can get lazy and begin to neglect it allowing it to fall into an ugly, weed infested mess.
Tending Your Garden
Even better news? You aren’t meant to tend your garden on your own! Our friends, family and community all feed into our garden, and most importantly, our Awesome God provides the living water and fertile soil we need to grow strong and be satisfied, which reminds me of a quote from John Piper: “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him” (see John Piper, Desiring God).
Are you content with your garden?
Finally, learn to be content with and in your garden. If you are always searching for a better garden somewhere else, who is left to look after yours?