This was the summer of our failure... garden failure, that is. My husband and I started the season of spring with the best of intentions. We carefully prepped the soil in which we would plant our peppers and tomatoes. As we did so, we envisioned the harvest of vegetables we would reap in the thick of summer. We were delighted when squash and sunflowers also germinated from whomever tended the garden plot before us.
Our best intentions soon fell short. Long work hours, combined with an already overloaded schedule of parenting and everyday life, took priority. Sadly, our little garden was neglected as a result. One day, in the swell of summer heat, I went out to water my thirsty little plot of land, only to find that our peppers were brown and shriveled on the vine. They never fully developed and were scorched by the blazing heat and lack of proper watering. Weeds had overtaken much of the garden in the way they seem to do when not maintained regularly.
It was a teachable moment for me on a variety of fronts. There was the lesson about the importance of a more balanced life schedule. Understanding this brought to light not only tending the garden, but also tending my own heart. Realizing that my heart needs the same care, attention and ongoing maintenance that a garden does, was insightful. Then there was the conviction from God which calls me to be a good steward of the blessings I have received both in the garden and in my heart. So I turn to Proverbs 4:23 which reminds me, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (NIV)
Guarding my heart it critical to maintaining a healthy balance for this life God has gifted me. It starts with being protective about what I allow into my heart. Like the plants in my garden, I need the daily watering and nourishment of spending time in God’s word. In order to face the day to day challenges, I need solitude, reflection, silence, and prayer, for without that time, I find myself ill-equipped. Ultimately the distractions and noise of the world seem to become louder in my life than the hushed voice of God whispering to my heart.
Gardens need more than just nourishment... they need the weeds to be removed so the plants are able to thrive. I too need regular weeding in order to thrive. So I examine my own heart, feelings, thought patterns, and behaviors and begin the task of weeding. Without it, all that is fruitful and life-giving within me will be strangled by roots of bitterness, envy, resentment, pride, and selfishness.
I desire my heart to be a wellspring. Merriam-Webster defines wellspring as, “a source of continual supply.” As a wellspring, or an outpouring of life, I will hopefully benefit those people whom I love. It positively impacts those in my household and beyond. God encourages me to share this wellspring of His love with anyone who is thirsty and longing for an encounter with Jesus.
I often wonder how different the world would look if my own heart, and the hearts of others, looked more like gardens and wellsprings. Both have the beautiful ability to change landscapes and bring abundant life. As a necessary component for life, gardens and loving hearts also bring nourishment to the world around them.
FOR FURTHER THOUGHT: In writing this, I am reminded of the story in John 4. Jesus encounters a Samaritan woman at a well. He reminds her that the only water that will ever truly satisfy is the living water that comes through a relationship with him. In other words, when I neglect my relationship with Jesus, and I don't make it a priority, I will end up looking to other sources to satisfy my needs. When I do this, I will always find myself in want. Jesus tells her in John 4:13-14, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” Jesus is the only one who can truly satisfy this heart of mine. How about you?
Father, thank you for the wisdom, correction, and instruction that your word provides. Help me to guard my heart, so that it may be a fruitful garden and a continual wellspring to those around me. Amen.
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