May 1, 2020
Christ in the Garden    

by Augustine Mulia 

A year before my daughter left for college, I started to feel the anxiety of not wanting to have that empty-nester syndrome. I had to have a project that I could work on until my second child left for college later. I would not call them everyday, nagging, begging, disturbing their new lives on campus.  To my amazement, seven years later, I have harvested carrots, spinach, kale, okra, eggplants, tomatoes, onions, beets, all kinds of berries and flowers, and enjoying every moment in the garden.  

Nobody told me that serious gardening is like raising children all over again. It is not that I just do it when I like it, but there are some tasks I dislike that I need to do when growing the seeds. I have to just embrace the work, to care, to protect, and keep on going until I get the seeds to grow to be fruitful. One learns to work with God’s creation without complaints but rather to accept his will and embrace the work to become fruitful. By doing so, I not only enjoy the fruits of my physical effort but also my spiritual growth.  

Many of our Lord’s parables utilize nature to teach spiritual truth. Parables featuring seeds, weeds, wheat, yeast, fish and trees teach about the kingdom of God ( Mark 4; Matt 13; Luke 13:6-9; 21:29-30 ). Varied results from sowing seed in different kinds of soils illustrate diverse responses to Jesus’ message of salvation in the gospel. ( Mark 4:1-8, 13-20 ). So many lessons from the garden apply to daily life.  

Our Lord was known to frequent gardens at the most crucial times in His life. And when He taught us to not be anxious about our lives he used lessons from the garden to calm our spirit and help us to live without fear. There is a beautiful passage wherein Christ appeals to nature to calm our spirit, inspire our faith, and allay our fears. That lovely passage is:  

25 ​“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? ​26 ​Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? ​27 ​Which of you by worrying can add one ​[​a​]​cubit to his ​[​b​]​stature? 28 ​“So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; ​29 ​and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not ​[​c​]​arrayed like one of these. ​30 ​Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, ​will He ​ not much more ​clothe ​ you, O you of little faith? 31 ​“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ ​32 ​For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. ​33 ​But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. ​34 ​Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day ​is ​ its own trouble. (Matthew 6:25-34 NKJV)  

For those Christians who pray over their gardens and find peace as they toil in them, perhaps it is because Christ is in their gardens with them.  
God of new life, inch by inch and row by row, bless the seeds of love and faith I sow with fertile ground 'til the rain comes tumblin' down. Amen.
Alpharetta Presbyterian Church
180 Academy Street, Alpharetta, GA 30009