So, if “a picture is worth a thousands words,” then this is going to be a really long blog post! LOL!
In my quest to eat healthy I decided to try my hand at gardening and planted a few tomato plants. I strutted down to the local grocer, bought the 5-gallon buckets, drilled a few holes for drainage, purchased organic soil and committed to taking care of these plants so I could reap a harvest. Almost since day one my plants have struggled. Clearly I do not have a green thumb. If you want even further proof, just stop by and check out the garden in my front yard: pitiful!
It is quite frustrating to have invested in these plants, in hopes of reaping a harvest. Thus far, the plants have only produced three (3) tomatoes, and though I am not a rocket scientist, by the looks of it, there may NOT be a prolonged harvest. Nurturing and caring for your plants is essential. If you don’t know what you are doing in the gardening realm (ie: haven’t done your research), and/or you don’t feed your plants (ie: water ) they will die.
I confess, I have no idea how to garden, nor have I taken the time to study up. I have also, admittedly, went a few days (ah hem, a week) without watering my plants. “Ignorance is NOT bliss” in this case. Oh yes, I could wave the flag and claim ignorance, but that is still not going to bring my plants back to fruitfulness. Nothing will bring them back except a lot of tender, loving care, quite a bit of further research, and a miracle from up above! Without those things, my tomato plant will most certainly die. What a revelation that this is also true for our faith!
The grace-filled, seed of faith is planted in our hearts on the day of our baptism!
(Side note: if you haven’t yet been baptized and are curious, please send me a message so we can discuss it in more detail)
We receive the beautiful, undeserved, gift of salvation from our sins, and our relationship with God begins. The Holy Spirit lives in us to guide, direct and encourage us, but, without the regular study of His Word (ie: The Bible) and participation in the Sacraments (ie: Baptism and Lord’s Supper) that seed of faith is going to wither and fade. Life happens, and while most of the time it is not intentional, our relationship with God takes the backseat. Forget the backseat, our faith often gets shoved in the deep, dark, trunk. Out of sight out of mind, right? That is, until one day, you return to find it looking much like my pitiful plant.
Withered. Fruitless. Broken.
Is it too late? Never! You see, God comes to us in our Baptism! He is chooses us!
“I want a deep, authentic, real, relationship with you,” God pleads!
“It’s not always going to be easy. Sometimes you are going to pull away. Sometimes you are going to disappoint. Sometimes you are going to fail, but I will never, ever stop pursuing you.”
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? …No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35-39
” Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” Luke 15:3-7
God sincerely wants our relationship with Him to grow!
He wants to see the fruits of the spirit in our lives. “The fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23), but similar to my pitiful tomato plant, it won’t produce if we don’t tend to it.
Maybe you have pulled away from God? There is simply too much going on in your life right now to digest or think about any more? You have absolutely zero time for anything other than your mundane routine? I am there right with you! I am beyond busy, and I have failed to take the time to be in God’s presence and let Him speak to me through His Word. My faith, sadly looks similar to this dying plant. So what do you do, if that is you too?
Martin Luther, the Reformer, not the Pastor, once said,
“I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.”
― Martin Luther
Though our time is short, we must take moments to be in the Word and in prayer. Certainly it is not realistic to go to Luther’s extreme, but taking any amount of time, is incredibly important. Just one week without nourishment and my tomato plant nearly died. It needed life-giving water, and that is what God’s Word gives to us!
“This life therefore is not righteousness, but growth in righteousness, not health, but healing, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it, the process is not yet finished, but it is going on, this is not the end, but it is the road. All does not yet gleam in glory, but all is being purified.”
― Martin Luther
Like any relationship, our relationship with God is a journey. You don’t suddenly have a connection with God, and have the ability to dig your heels into that mountain top. There are hills and there are valleys in our faith journey. There are deserts and there are streams.
“There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.”
Our faith and relationship with Christ, will not grow without a lot of tender, loving care, further study of His Word, and a miracle from up above! As you take time to satisfy and nurture that seed of faith, fruit will grow. Often it will be difficult, but don’t give up. “There is a time for everything,” but I pray that as you persevere, you will come to know our amazing God more intimately and I pray you will discover His perfect, unending love! Your sacrifices will be worth it, for they are nothing compared to the ultimate sacrifice our Savior, Jesus, made for all…you and me!