The garden that we are all called to tend to is our heart! Adam was instructed to dress and keep the Garden of Eden.
Genesis 2: 15 And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
A better translation would be from the Hebrew words for dress and keep. The thought is to tend to, till, work, labor, and serve; and watch, observe, and protect. Even in the Garden it was man’s privilege and responsibility to work and guard for the life of the Garden. This is our responsibility today as gardeners of Eden. We are to tend to the space of our hearts, and tend to the trees among us. The trees are the relationships with others. Isaiah 61 says that we are all trees of righteousness the planting of the Lord.
I was talking to some very close friends of mine the other day about this subject. We are all like gardeners whether you realize it or not; soon enough you will figure that out. I have never seen so much turmoil going on in the world and the hearts of people. I am convinced there are economic stresses and physical calamities, but the real problems we struggle with are relational. We have not been fulfilling our God ordained call to tend to our gardens. As I was talking to my friends, we have a conference call about every Sunday, this subject became clear.
The process of gardening our heart works much like the Mark 4 parable of the types of grounds. Remember earlier I stated that most likely at some point we were all for types of these grounds at sometime or another. The types are Hard, Stony, Thorny, and different levels of Good ground.
Mar 4:3 Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow:
Mar 4:4 And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up.
Mar 4:5 And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth:
Mar 4:6 But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away.
Mar 4:7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit.
Mar 4:8 And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred.
Mar 4:9 And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
My first full-time paying job was given to me when I was 14 years old. We had moved into a new town, and the oil business was booming and money was flowing like water. One of my new best friends’ Mother opened up a Nursery. The nursery was of course filled with plants, flowers and gardening supplies. My primary responsibility was landscaping and lawn care. A big part of our business was planting new lawns, from grass, to all of the landscaping themes. It is funny today I can go back to my home town and many of the lawns that are in the new neighborhoods were planted by me some thirty plus years ago! Since the oil business was booming everyone was moving to our town. People were buying up vacant lots and building new homes like they were going out of style. The lawn care, planting, and landscaping became a full-time job.
The Hard Ground
We had a small lawn tractor with a rotor tiller on the back. We used this machine about every other day it seemed. The ground was so hard because it had not been ever tilled in probably ages. Many times it was so hard that I had to have two other employees stand on the back of the tiller just to keep the tines in the ground. Many times we would have to soak up the ground by watering it for a couple of days. Not only is the ground hard, but it is very odd that nothing grows on it, except for the things you don’t want to grow. The hardest and most labor intense times are spent in the very beginning of the lawn process. That’s why last time we shared on this subject, that it would get easier! Just hang out with me for a minute I’ll show you.
Much like our hearts when they are hard, or get hardened through painful situations it is hard to grow anything but weeds on. I am amazed that weeds pretty much can grow about anywhere! I’ve seen weeds grow practically on black top. But if you desire a lush grass lawn it’s going to take work. If we think in these terms of our heart then when we first become enlightened and God just breaks up our hard hearts! He floods us with the water of the Spirit to soften the blow of the tills. For the most part it feels good to be broken up and softened. unfortunately this is only the beginning! Let me interject here; Adam was placed in the Providence of God. The initial seeds were planted by God Himself and the deep was already broken up. Adam didn’t have to deal with the breaking up of the hard ground, or stones, even thorns for that matter. His initial call to work was full of grace and from a place of identity. When they were sent out of the Garden then all of these responsibilities came upon him. Breaking up the hard ground just make it possible to receive seed would now be his responsibility. He would then have to level the ground, remove the stones, and pull the weeds.
There are obvious obstacles that must be removed prior to breaking up the ground. Before we tilled up the hard ground we would always do an inspection. Lets be clear here, that when God is ready to break up your hard ground it is for a purpose and and ultimately for your increase. I have noticed that while some may have been tending to their garden of their heart for years, there are some hard spots. Much like natural lawns it can become dry and hard with out water. Another way to harden an otherwise perfect lawn is by walking or playing too roughly. I remember when I was in Jr High we would all have a class at the High School. The schools were only a couple of blocks away. There was one poor lady who had a great lawn, but all of us kids would always cut through her lawn instead of going around the corner. This went on for the whole year, she would come out screaming and we would all run off. The fact of the matter the constant walking in one spot destroyed the grass and made the ground very hard in that area.
Her solution to the problem was putting up a fence to force all of the students to follow the street line. We podcasted about this subject in our latest podcasts call Walls and Fences. So if we are not careful we can have a perfect lawn of our heart but allowing people to constantly walk in the same pattern over and over in our hearts will kill the grass, and create hard ground. If this is the case we have no choice but to erect healthy boundaries / fences and water!