Try as I might, my gardening expeditions have produced very little fruit. I spent about three years in a row working the soil, creating flowerbeds, and then planting the vegetables of the season. My hopes - one of those above the ground beds of lush vegetable gardens. My actual production - dead vines, undeveloped melons, and a tremendous harvest for the birds! Did I harvest what I planted? Most would say, "No", but when you explore the work performed AFTER the planting was done, you'd change your answer!!
7-8Don't be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. All he'll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God's Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life.
(Galations 6:7-8 The Message)
The fact remains, what is planted must be cultivated for it to grow to maturity! We cannot simply prepare the soil, add some seedlings, then think watering will be enough to produce the harvest we hoped for. The most successful gardeners actually spend time in their gardens! I wanted to fruit of my efforts without the expenditure of much effort!
For those of you who are avid gardeners, possessing the coveted "green thumb", you are probably shaking your heads about now. In considering my silly attempt at "producing" a bountiful harvest, you probably feel like asking me what I was thinking! The truth is, I wasn't doing much thinking at all!
I expected something because I put "some" effort into it. I really did not apply myself whole-heartedly to the task of "maintaining" what had been begun. This is often the case with lessons God is teaching me - I get it, commit to it, then somewhere down the line, I seem to fizzle out. It is not God's doing which brings me to the place of looking at a lack of "fruit" from what he planted - it is mine!
You may be surprised to find God has not moved the garden in your life! He still watches over it - hoping for fruit. What he is waiting for is our slowing down, taking the time for his Spirit to "turn-over" the soil of our garden, tending the tender leaves of new growth, until fruit is coaxed forth. In order to bring forth the good fruit, he sometimes has to remove a few weeds which over-shadow the fruit he is producing.
He is much more committed to this gardening process than we often are. The fact is - we cannot deny the laws of sowing and reaping. When we allow the birds to steal away the best of the harvest before it develops fully, or resist the pressure of pushing past the hardened soil of our hearts with the new growth he is producing, we will see much less of a harvest within our lives. When we yield to his "tilling" and "tending", the harvest is much richer - indeed, we'd call it "bountiful".
Bounty is the opposite of stunted. Bounty bespeaks the generous care of a loving gardener. Stunted growth bespeaks the slow, almost stopped growth. Both conditions of the "garden" of our hearts have signs of growth - but only one yields a harvest of highest worth.