by Kim Williams
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:4-5 NKJV
I have learned something about myself. One might assume that since I am hovering somewhere between fifty and sixty, there wouldn’t be much left to learn. Au contraire.
I have always loved flowers, cardinals, butterflies, and hummingbirds. For a long time, each spring, I would buy hanging baskets to decorate my porch, deck, and pool area. It was a big step one season when I made the move from silk flowers to the real thing. I watered, under watered, and overwatered. Not ideal plant care, I will admit. As for the rest my garden favorites–my hummingbird feeder never drew hummingbirds, my bird feeder drew squirrels, and my butterfly population was so low, we had only rare sightings. It was all a little disappointing.
This year I made a change. My daughter-in-law, who has a green thumb, is teaching me how to care for plants that attract butterflies—care, as in actually work at it, that is. Producing beautiful flowers and plants takes intentional effort. Here is the lesson I’ve learned as I’ve worked: I may like to look at beautiful flower gardens, but the upkeep part doesn’t come naturally to me at all. In other words, the natural me does not produce the type of blooms I’d so like to see.
Paul tells believers in the book of Galatians what type of bloom (fruit) the Holy Spirit in us will produce: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. However, he also reminds us in Romans 7:15-20 that making the choice to yield to Him can be a struggle. “For the good that I want I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want!” (Romans 7:19 NASB). Complete obedience to the Father is a challenge when our flesh is crying out for the opposite.
God the Creator has provided believers with the gardening tools to allow the kind of blooms that will attract others to Him, giving off the aroma of Christ. His Spirit in us will dig and prune to help us throw off the bad and choose the good. His Word nourishes and fertilizes us, empowering us to grow in our relationship with Christ. Time in prayer waters and refreshes us, and allows us to hear His gardening tips for our lives.
If you are like me, life gets busy being a wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, homemaker, leader, and professional. It’s all too easy to neglect the gardening our souls desperately need. Without that cultivating and feeding, we can feel more like a silk plant. It may be pretty, but is lifeless—a mere imitation of what our Creator intended us to be.
About the author: A former teacher, Kim Williams has served twenty-plus years as a preschool minister at First Baptist Woodstock. She travels and trains on teaching techniques, child development, spiritual growth, and leadership. Kim has written two Christian fiction novels: Among the Crepe Myrtles and When the Butterflies Dance, both based on letters discovered in family heirlooms.
Join the conversation: How does your “garden” grow? Are you abiding in the Vine?