As the snow melts, the days get a tad warmer, and the sun remains out a bit longer each day, I admit to having the urge to plant a garden. I've had that thought almost every spring for the last 10 years but the thought rarely comes to fruition. One year we managed to till a small spot in our backyard. It sat there looking like a lone patch on a lawn-quilt. Just a few weeds that year.
The following year we made a step forward and my husband kindly planted some vegetable plants for Mother's Day. That was the summer we had a horrible hail storm in our town and that fledgling effort was virtually decimated in 30 minutes time.
We tried once again last year with tomatoes but were so overrun with them, most were just left to decompose on the vine (I'm the only one in our 8 member family who eats tomatoes). I keep telling myself that when my primary crop is harvested (raising kids), then perhaps I'll turn my hand to agricultural pursuits.
Speaking of harvesting children, it made me think about a story I read to my littles recently. It was from a bind-up book of newsletters called "Little Lambs" (kindly given to me by a sister). It's a collection of good old-fashioned stories that demonstrate kids facing temptations and trials and how they are guided by their parents to follow God's way in those situations.
In one story, the children were studying gardening catalogs eagerly planning out their spring gardens. Their mother looked at the catalog and asked them, "What's wrong with this picture?" The answer was a revelation to me as a parent. Their mother pointed out that in the photo they showed all the flowers in bloom at the same time. But she said that actually, they all bloom at different times.
What a profound statement about children. They all bloom at different times. Am I looking at someone else's garden or someone else's family and wondering why their fruit has blossomed and mine hasn't? Some flowers bloom quickly and then fade just as fast. Some trees take years to become established. If a newly planted apple tree doesn't flower the first season, does its owner rip it out of the ground? Obviously not. But when I don't see my kids flowering as soon as I think they "should" or as soon as my friend's children do, am I tempted to attack them or prune a bit roughly? Do I nag and belittle, prodding them into growth that they aren't capable of?
The world is consumed by "milestones" and parents are obsessed with finding out how their kids measure up to those supposed standards. Crawling by a certain age, walking, then talking and so on and so on. But those guidelines apply to only a certain type of plant and perhaps the plant growing in your garden isn't on that time table. The world launches children at age 18 (at least many hope to). What if it takes your child a bit longer to complete high school? Perhaps their harvest will be later in autumn and we are wise to properly consider how God made each of our children unique...and set to "bloom" in His time, not ours.
No matter how much you coax and wheedle a plant, it will flower at the proper time. So the question is whether or not I will let God do his part in the cultivation of my "garden" of children?While a farmer can take credit at least for planting, as a parent, I can't even boast about that. The Lord is the one who planted these children into my garden and He is the one who will water their soul and shine truth to their roots. While I can cooperate with his efforts, I must remember their growth will result from God's will, purpose and timetable for their life.
In this season of motherhood, I'm not going to stress about a physical garden when I have so much cultivating to do of young hearts that are in varying stages of development. Not to mention the hoeing and weeding still to do in my own life--I still need the Lord's pruning every day. And the harvest of my life won't be fully reaped until the Lord calls me home.