Hot weather is wonderful for a garden as long as the gardener keeps up the watering. I was out in the garden before breakfast this morning making sure the tomatoes got their water, and peeking through the zucchini jungle for more offspring. Oh no! 2 going on 4 more! Watering is one of those unrelenting chores. It’s kind of a peaceful operation, if you’re not in a hurry to do anything but watch water be absorbed into thirsty dirt! Soaker hoses and drip systems are great inventions. Unfortunately I did not make sufficient use of these this year so… there is watering to be done, unendingly.
I could give it up I suppose, but what’s sadder than the sight of a dead plant, especially when you know it was due to your own neglect. I have a couple planters even now the sight of which is a reproach; they got forgotten while we were away enjoying our carefree cycling holiday with nary a thought of home, or parched plants…My last minute watering instructions did not include the window box full of once thriving thyme and oregano plants…nor the carefree purple alyssum blooming their hearts out on the front steps. Sigh. Watering is important, non-negotiable.
But watering is not the glory of gardening—it’s just the brainless part that seems to make it work. The real wonder is the way things grow. Nasturtiums rise from forgotten seeds and tumble all about in vivid yellows and oranges. Zucchini kick in high gear when the sun shines hot. Tomatoes that grew from teensy weensy seedlings coddled indoors when summer was yet a dream now reforest the greenhouse in great green sprawling masses… Well might the nonsensical Mother Goose Rhyme ask: “How does your garden grow?”. Can you explain it? I can plant seeds. I can apply water. But I cannot bring out the sun and I cannot cause a plant to instinctively rise up toward it and put forth leaves and flower and fruit. This is the wonder that keeps me in the garden prowling about to inspect the latest bit of growth. This is the wonder that keeps me watering.
And no wonder I Corinthians 3:7 caught my eye this week: “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” The statement is made to quell the clamoring competition over which prestigious personage one should follow. ( I follow Paul. Well, I follow Apollos. Oh yeah, well I follow Christ…) Paul goes on to say that both the planter and waterer will be rewarded for their work-- in this particular case, Paul and Apollos, the church planters in Corinth, but that they are not the main honchos. However, get this, they are God’s fellow workers! Isn’t that a neat picture?! What a privilege. So what if we only get to plant seeds or do some mundane watering, God considers us his fellow gardeners! He’s at work giving life to those seeds and making those watered shoots spring up and produce fruit, he only tasks us with the simple stuff: plant the seed I have provided and water it well….
I wonder what that looks like? In this context it would seem the seed is the Word of God and particularly, the Gospel. Paul’s mission was to take the Gospel where it had not yet been heard. The watering, at least in Apollos’ case was about teaching and defending the truth against naysayers and in so doing bringing great encouragement to the believers (see: Acts 18:24-28). In both cases these were tasks for which these men were gifted and to which they were called. My planting and watering may look different than theirs. I’m no skilled orator. Nor am I a church planter. But each of us is gifted with something to be used in God’s garden as we work alongside Him making His garden grow. This is a wonder and a privilege. I will gladly hold the hose if it lets me be up close to see things growing in that wonderful way only God can bring about. I’m reminded too that holding hoses and watching water sink into dry dirt may not be glamorous and the results may not be seen straightway, but even in the mundane, I am called God’s fellow worker and that’s amazing!
Blessings on you as you ‘garden’ with Him. Keep the water flowing and watch what God will do!
“I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” I Cor. 1:4-9
And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. Gal.6:9