I guess it shouldn’t surprise me all that much that God has an affinity for gardens. In Scripture He uses gardens to signify new beginnings, but they are also fertile soil for sweet, poignant pain. From Eden where Creation, in its purest form, was birthed, and where the Creator was betrayed by the ones He perfectly shaped, to Gethsemane where Jesus wept in turmoil in the shadow of the cross that would carry Him – and us – into eternity, but not before He endured a gauntlet of torture, taunting and tumult.
I guess it shouldn’t surprise me all that much that our leaden steps through the last three years have taken shape in metaphorical gardens, either. I outlined our journey through infertility with a post titled Infertile But Bountiful and then documented our gutwrenching miscarriage with Where Nothing Is Growing, Everything Is. I didn’t intentionally make the parallel, and it wasn’t until hours after beginning this post that I realized it was a third look at horticulture in the streams of conflict. But, God.
I could continue waxing poetic about gardening, but the truth is that I’ve never been able to yield more than 2 okra and some basil leaves. Here’s the trick: I start my gardens too big, too wild, too free. If I want to stop visiting the farmer’s market this summer, I need to start my garden now. Indoors. Inside the safety of tiny Dixie cups. I need to carefully watch their first, fresh heads peep through the soil and unfurl tiny, new leaves. I need to carefully tailor their environments to their vulnerabilities. Then, when the weather is warmer, I’ll need to do something a little cruel. I’ll need to pluck them from their tiny, familiar homes and plunk them directly into unknown soil with unfamiliar and unseen boundaries. I’ll need to uproot their very existence and convince them that not only can they continue to grow, but they can thrive… that they must embrace the uprooting and re-potting in order to flourish.
It’s a touchy thing, uprooting. If I sever their fragile stems from their foundational roots, they can’t survive because their lifesource is gone. But, if I trust too naively in the sight of their growing buds inside their miniscule homes, and leave them alone, I’ll stunt their growth and watch as they suffocate themselves with their own structure. Any mishandling will crush the seedlings.
But, God. He’s the Master Gardener. He cultivates His crop with purpose and care. He never recklessly handles His children, never leaves behind verdant shrapnel or trails of broken stems. He also never uproots without reason or divine timing… never re-pots seedlings whose foundations can’t withstand the shocking transition. That doesn’t mean the transition is without discomfort. This new soil, it’s scary terrain. It’s primitive. It’s foreign. It’s uncharted. But in gardening, here’s another secret: the new soil, it’s richer. It’s deeper. It’s ripe for growth and bounty.
He’s uprooted me. He’s plucked me from the comfort I held dear, and He’s carried me further into the garden than I wanted to go, while I’ve kicked and cried and begged to stay inside my Dixie cup, warm and stagnant, He’s held me gently, cupped in His caring palm, and whispered assurances to me. “I have plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future,” He promises me time and time again. Even in my doubt and my distress and my fear, He reminds me there is nothing that He’s cultivated in me that hasn’t borne fruit to strengthen my faith and enrich my life thus far.
This new garden is bigger than the others. Its soil is deeper, but my roots are stronger than they were when they were first planted, because the Gardener tells me that He wouldn’t move me without knowing the tenacity of my infrastructure. I can flourish now. I can leave behind who I was before the growth happened because He’s called me to be more than a single bud… He’s called me to bloom and showcase His glory. This garden is a good garden, and my gardener, He is a sovereign, omnipotent gardener, and I will trust the seasons of His harvests.