May 24, 2010

Lessons from the Garden: The Smell of Success!

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” Romans 12:1 (KJV)

“…an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.” Phil. 4:18 (KJV)

Saturday I was alone. Bob is in Montana visiting family. So it was just me and the cat. But before you feel sorry for me – I wasn’t blue at all. Missing my Romeo – yes, but enjoying some household solitude as well.

I decided to spend the day creating a new flower bed just outside of my office window. It would entail a trip to Home Depot and digging out a fair amount of grass. Now I have to admit, yard work is not my forte. Very few people have ever witnessed my outdoor efforts. In fact, more people have pictures of Big Foot than have caught me gardening. However, just because I seldom engage in this task, doesn’t mean I don’t know how to do it! I am a woman of many secrets! Ha!

After my trip that incurred a cost of $40 over my budget (there goes the groceries!) and 2 dozen trips from the car to my back yard, I took a break! Then I measured and outlined my bed. With the aid of a saw, I furiously ripped up all the grass and weeds. Next on the list was the careful placement and alignment of my white scalloped brick border. Add to the mix a few bags of additional soil and I was ready to plant. Of course, I used the work and hour and break for 30 minutes plan throughout my day.

My pièce de résistance came in the form of one Hibiscus (topiary style), 2 Butterfly bushes, 2 Gardenias and nine succulent bedding plants. Five hours after I started, I had a flower garden worthy of the finest blue ribbons. Next week, I work on humility.

With my flora and fauna finished, I could finally turn my attention to myself. My feat wasn’t without injury. My leg had a knot where I stepped on a rake and my shin rescued me from a would-be blow to the head. I discovered the tingling of muscles long since thought dead. My thoughts quickly turned to my heating pad.

Not to mention, I was a mess! My statuesque form (ha!) was covered in dirt from head to toe. My sunscreen failed and my back was baked. I don’t care that women don’t perspire, but are supposed to glow; I was fully consumed in sweat. Then the wind changed and I noticed one final insult to all my injury. I stunk like a skunk and that is putting it mildly. I shall not embarrass myself or upset the beginning of your day by being any more descriptive than that!

Yet, somehow when looking upon my tiny garden area, the delight I felt made all the personal sacrifice worth it. It’s funny how life can be that way as well, especially relationships.

Good relationships require work. Sometime we actually have to get dirt under our fingernails to start relationships like the one we should have with God and ones we have with others. Relationships are an investment of body, mind and soul. On occasion, they come easy. You see, I’ve planted flowers in my front yard before where it was done quickly and efficiently, and without a lot of muss and fuss. But sometimes, it requires more work, like my most recent project. Both require maintenance which can also be easier some days than others.

Bottom line, whether it’s a beginning work or a maintenance work, at some point your relationships and your “reasonable” service will cost you blood, sweat and yes, tears. That’s what it cost Christ.

I think sometimes we think our relationship to Christ and service in Christ (including service/relationships with others) should be one of those things that fall into place with no hard work on our part – I have been guilty of thinking that myself some days. What do you think?

I think sometimes we worry so much about being clean before God, that we forget it might require some sacrifice and sweat equity on our part. What do you think?

All I know is that when the hard work and dirt are gained by honest and godly means, for an honest and godly purpose, all that sweat and stink is a pleasant aroma before God’s presence. This means we can rest assured that all the suffering and soreness we experience are simply part of God’s “well-done thy good and faithful servant” and the end result – well, it was worth it all!

Plant something this week and which it grow!

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