4. Boundaries are necessary.
Garden: Predators abound. For our garden in particular, we were concerned about deer. So we made the effort to find out the most effective yet least offensive (to the eye) fence to keep out the deer. Turns out, clear fishing line wrapped around posts does the job (at least so far!) But this type of fence would not keep out the rabbits, a still more menacing adversary to our desired yield. So, rolls of chicken wire were dispensed around said posts, and though the bunnies paid a lot of attention to our garden plots (one went so far as to get his little paws stuck in the fencing, shaking it as if in frustrations), they were never successful in enjoying our vegetal delights. We planned out exactly how far the fence should be from the garden bed, allowing for the optimal access and protection.
Spiritual: Recently our pastor has been preaching about boundaries. He pointed out that boundaries are not the commands of God. If you set the boundary right on top of the edge of the command, you make provision for your flesh to fail so easily. Instead, with the heart motive of pleasing our Father, we set the boundaries further back and thus frustrate the devil’s plans to tempt us over the line God has drawn.
5. Unexpected trials are to be expected.
Garden: Everything was growing happily along (except that which didn’t grow—you make the application there.) Then one day, a bunch of tiny yellow fuzz balls showed up all over the bush beans. The early crop had already been harvested, and many blossoms promised a second round of crispy fresh goodness. Thankfully, we live in the age of Google, so I soon learned that the larvae of Mexican bean beetles were going to change the lush green leaves to a dry lacy brown. Thankfully, the total harvest was reasonable, thought the beetles really enjoyed their temporary living quarters to the fullest.
Another obstacle to our homegrown delicacies were the squash borers. God gave us the right resource at the right time to warn us how to handle these pests, which burrow down the center the vines of spaghetti squash. The best way to handle these is to slit the stem along the section where there is evidence of vine chewing. You continue the slit until you encounter the fat white larva and then you exterminate him. This must be done in as many spots as you see because multiple larvae like to live in the same plant.
Spiritual: Typically, unexpected problems come when we are least expecting, not prepared, and busiest. God has designed trials in this way so that we will be continually shaped into His image, not at all through the help of our flesh. When our flesh is weakest, we are most able to be sanctified. How can we make the most of these fatherly intersections? Embrace them as being from His loving hand and submit to the work He is doing in us with thanksgiving, as we realize it is the manifestation of a loving, living relationship with Him.
6. The fruits are abundant and satisfying.
Garden: “I’m really starting to get it!” were the words out of my husband’s mouth. We were enjoying homemade raspberry jam and homegrown carrots (as accoutrements to other items, of course!) He pointed out the hours spent in picking the raspberries and canning the jam. He described the process of planting the seeds, constantly watering, often weeding, and finally picking the carrots. He made much of the effort that went in to the enjoyment of garden fresh food, a rather surprising contrast to even the freshest of grocery store produce. It was deeply satisfying to thoughtfully revel in the fruits of our labors.
Spiritual: As we push forward in our desire to continue to grow, it is easy to forget to look back and be encouraged by all that God has brought us through and done in our lives. Be sure to take the time to reflect with thanksgiving and joy, then use that to energize your present and future walk with God.
Intentionally set your boundaries.
Embrace your God-given unexpecteds.
Reflect on the past to fuel the future.
Laura started attending Lehigh Valley Baptist Church as a child when her family moved to the area. For years, her primary passion was in nursing and furthering her education. In the midst of pursuing a medical degree, God changed her plans and she married Jonathan Snow (read their story here). Now, she has discovered a special fulfillment from being a wife and a mother! Truly, God’s ways are always for our good and for His glory.
Great analogies! Thanks for these thoughts!!