Last week I planted my tomatoes in the little raised bed The Mister made me. I’m thankful that he humors my desire to farm on such a tiny scale. In fact, over the last few years I have scoured the internet and read the entire UGA extension office web site to increase my harvest of Big Boy tomatoes because everyone’s knows nothing says “summer” like a slab of red juicy tomato sprinkled with salt and pepper and between to slices of soft Sunbeam bread.
The first time I planted tomatoes I did not know much about soil prep. Composting and weed control were not incorporated and my harvest was not particularly impressive. Fast forward to last year. I had tomatoes everywhere. Big fat juicy red tomatoes. We ate them in salads, sliced on hamburgers, dipped our chips in homemade salsa and well….you get the idea. See, I learned the value of soil prep.
And so it is with my heart……
Jesus explains soul prep to his disciples, and to me. And this morning, after pulling some weeds and feeling the pleasure of dark black soil between my fingers I think about soul prep here at the edge of my garden where it is still and quiet and the dew is still wet on my bare feet…
Jesus explains how sometimes in some hearts the seed of the word never blossoms into fruit because the soil of the soul is never tended. And I see the birds swoop down and tug at seeds barely tucked in the ground. Satan disguises himself as a black crow and waits to relentlessly eat up theWord before it even takes root. So I set up a scarecrow on the edge of my heart in the form of prayer. I ask God to chase those Satanic crows away so I can recieve the Word with gladness. And He does…The Master Gardener patiently shows me the way to set up the scarecrow of faith through prayer and attention to the disciplines of the faith. he stands guard on the edges of the garden when I ask Him and chases the swooping black crow from the garden so the sower can cast the seeds.
And then I dig my hands deep into the fresh ground and find the cold hard pieces of stone, these fears of what people will say about me, the rejection of the world and toss them outside the garden edges of my heart. Persecution of any degree finds it way into every believers garden. I determine to withstand my appointed persecution like a good soldier and pick up that stone to find rich soil underneath. Because persecution for me will come but God promises to help me endure and find the fertile places where my roots can settle despite the troubles of this life.
I pull at the tiny weeds I see creeping up around the edges of my tomatoes and as I tug at them I ask God to pull up the desire of this world from my heart. Sometimes it’s not the rocky troubles of the world as much as the desire to have more, and be more, and success of this life that choke out the seeds of the gospel in my life. I pinch out the roots of selfishness from my heart and it is painful as I tug it out and toss it aside. These weeds will wrap their long stickers fingers around the green stalks of the Word and before I am aware the Word is nothing more than a yellow withered plant here in the garden of my heart. It’s a daily duty this weed picking. Every morning God calls me to the garden and points out these tiny buds that seem harmless. But I pluck them out today while they are tender and soft before the roots of materialism and desire for recognition take root and grow their slender thorns.
And I see the garden now. The way the Gardner wants it, rich and black. I can smell the deep earthy scent of spring as the dew melts on it. I watch the leaf of my tomatoes plant unfold in the gentle morning sun. Just this morning the tiniest yellow flower pokes its head from under a leaf with the promise of red fruit that will come late June.
And so it is in my heart.
And I ask God to burn the parable of the sower from Mark 4 in my mind. I ask Him to till the garden of my heart. A daily task that leads to a beautiful harvest.