Gardening 101

So far this summer, I have killed:
a zucchini plant,
2 cucumber plants,
a tomato plant,
3 carrot plants,
2 watermelon plants,
a geranium plant,
a ...something plant. it used to have flowers, at any rate,
and a flowerbox full of nasturtiums that were supposed to gracefully adorn the window in front of the Bible House.

This could have been prevented. Plants really only need two things to grow - the sun and enough water. Sunshine was provided plentifully by the Lord this summer.

I dropped the ball on watering the plants. And now, they're dead.

Every morning, for the first 10 or so weeks, I'd get up every morning and check on the plants. If they looked dry, I'd wait till sunset and then water the plants. The girls "helped" (this, after all, was their school experiment on how plants grow). The plants did well. I was feeling pretty awesome, since I usually kill plants within days of receiving them. [The black thumb of plant death and destruction is mine, to my horror!]

Then, something disastrous happened. I became complacent. There were some mornings when the plants looked just fine, that I would skip watering for a day here and there. Then I started forgetting. Once in a while, we'd check on them, and they were kind of wilted, but still mostly healthy - but then I'd forget to water them before retiring for the evening.

I went out to check on them this morning. I was greeted by a sad sight: every single plant was dead. Not just limp, not just wilted. Very, very dead. Beyond rescusitation. I can't remember the last time I watered those plants!

Still, I went in the house, got a pitcher of water, and watered those plants. Which when I think about it seems quite ridiculous. They are still dead. Our porch garden will probably still be void of life in the morning, no matter how much sunlight shines on it; there is little to no hope for our plants. No remedy for my complacency and busyness.

As I pondered this turn of events this morning, God brought the following proverb to my mind:

The generous soul will be made rich,
and he who waters will also be watered himself. [Proverbs 11:25]

I was thinking about how people are kind of like plants, in that sense. To truly thrive and grow, we need lots of Son and we need other people to "water" us. The Son is the Lord Jesus Christ. He makes Himself available to us in abundance. Since He is the very Word of God, spending time in the Son -in the Word and in times of prayer and worship- helps us grow.

To refresh us, God uses the encouragement, edification, and admonishment of those nearest and dearest to us. That's the "water." He desires that we be generous in "watering" our brothers and sisters in Christ and He tells us that when we are faithful to spend time watering others by encouraging them (NOT with empty praise, but true encouragement), sharing in their joy, coming alongside in times of sorrow, and building up their faith, that we ourselves will also be watered.

If we become complacent in "watering" our friends and family - if we notice that they are looking a little limp in their faith or doctrine but we assume they'll be fine - if we forget to shower them with encouraging words or admonishment when necessary - if we get so wrapped up in our own lives that we neglect to build up those closest to us in the faith - they may meet a similiar end as my poor plants. Dead.

It's true that friends and family probably won't physically die if we don't take time to encourage them. But beware: their faith might wither. They might feel burned by God. They may wonder whether or not He cares about them, because we're missing the call to minister to them.

I have been and am convicted of this in my life. There are people that I love dearly that I forget to water. Mostly, Will and the girls. I see them every day, and that can be a hinderance to my ability to see that they need to be watered. "Oh," I justify, "it's been a hard day, but he'll be fine tomorrow." And I miss a glorious opportunity to pour refreshment into Will's heart because I'm lazy. I'm complacent. I'm not following God's prompting to be a generous soul. It's the same with the girls, and with some of my very dearest and closest friends.

So. Here's to diligence in watering those around me, not only after I notice that they're in danger of dying spiritually, but long before that (while they're still healthy)! Here's to not being afraid to pour out my life to water others on behalf of my King, knowing that He will supply the water I need to stay healthy in Him. Here's to rejecting a life of forgetfulness and being so busy with myself that I miss blessed opportunities to bring life to my loved ones.

Who around you needs watering today? Send them an encouraging verse. Take time to call them and let them know that you're thinking of them (and praying for them, if you are). Don't just look for the limpest and weariest of people, either - remember to bless those who appear robust and healthy, too. They're less likely to die if you take good care of them while they're blooming!

And -most importantly- even more important than any kind word you can say, or any phone conversation you can have: always, always point your friends and family toward the Son. Even with all the encouragement and love and support you give, your loved ones will die if they don't learn to spend lots of time with the Lord Jesus! [And if you don't know Jesus Christ as your Lord, then you need to spend time with Him, too!]

By His grace,
and for His glory!

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