It’s Worth the Investment

This time of year, I love looking out on the hillsides and fields and seeing the many wildflowers bloom all around.  It amazes me.  The entire process amazes me.  Simply from the wind blowing and the April storms, we see flowers that have spread and reproduced.  It’s almost as if it took nothing for those flowers to appear.  When I try to plant flowers, or anything for that matter, it takes a lot of hard work.  Usually what I plant doesn’t even survive.  It’s amazing how the wind blowing can move a flower from one place to another, and it not only survives; it thrives.

We used to live in Northeast Texas, and our yard was beautiful.  It was landscaped with trees, bushes and flowers that just made my heart happy when I looked at them.  Every year I would add a few new flowers around our tree in the back yard, and I would hang some plants from the porch.  My plants were always inspiring.  Then, we moved to the suburbs right in the heart of Texas.  We’ve lived here for 6 years, and each year I plant something new.  Why do I do that?  Because everything I plant dies within a month or so.  Well, that’s assuming they ever grew in the first place.  I dream of a vegetable garden, but I can’t seem to keep anything alive other than my crape myrtles that were planted a few years back.  I was a little unhappy when I noticed my 5 year old broke down our largest and prettiest crape myrtle a few weeks ago.  It is now a stump rising just a few inches above the ground.  I finally planted something that lived, and my son decided to use the branches as a baseball bat.  Hmm sounds familiar.  I recall my husband telling a story of two boys using a bat to hit their grandmother’s beloved crape myrtle one summer until it became a stump.  Those boys were my husband and his cousin.  I guess it’s genetic.  But I digress. . .

Why is it that I can’t have a great looking garden here in our suburbia home?  I wonder if it has anything at all to do with the clay-like soil we have?  I didn’t have to work very hard at our old home.  The flowers just grew.  I keep hearing people talk about how you have to “work the ground” before you plant.  What in the world does that even mean?  Shouldn’t it be as easy as the wind blowing beautiful flowers to my yard, and I turn my sprinklers on?  What I’ve learned is that it isn’t always as easy as it was in our old home.  The soils are different.

It reminds me of the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13.
What do you make of this? A farmer planted seed. As he scattered the seed, some of it fell on the road, and birds ate it. Some fell in the gravel; it sprouted quickly but didn’t put down roots, so when the sun came up it withered just as quickly. Some fell in the weeds; as it came up, it was strangled by the weeds. Some fell on good earth, and produced a harvest beyond his wildest dreams.  

Depending on where the seeds fall, they may not be able to survive.  This is true not just for plants and vegetables.  It’s true for people as well.  We share God’s love and mercy to the people we know, but have you ever thought of how you share it? 
*The path: If you just say something in passing and never say it again, it’s like the seeds that fall along the path that they birds eat.  The knowledge is gone before it ever has time to sink in. 
*Gravel: Sometimes we have a good conversation with a friend, and we may even help lead them to God.  Wow, isn’t it amazing to see how on fire they are?  But what happens, when there is no follow up or no areas for them to learn more about being a Christian?  They usually burn out.  They need to find something new to give them that energy.  They don’t realize that there is so much more than just learning who God is.  If they only knew, it would help them grow, survive and thrive.
*Weeds: Then, there are those who are fired up and plugged into all the right places, but those old habits die hard.  They run into old friends doing the same old things, and they get back into their old routine.  There’s nothing we could have done differently.  It’s just the environment they are in.  It’s the environment filled with weeds.
*Good soil:  But then there are times that everything is right.  The person you’ve invested time in has found a relationship with God, gotten plugged in, stayed on a high and are now thriving and leading others.  How wonderful to see the fruits of your labor turn into something beautiful!

The key here is that very rarely can you just throw some seed on the ground and see something grow and survive.  You have to invest time and energy into it.  You can’t forget about what you’ve planted and expect to walk outside one day with beautiful flowers covering your yard.  You really have to spend each day paying attention to the needs of each plant.  Just like the garden you invest in, people need even more of an investment.  Pay close attention to the needs of those you’re leading to Christ, and sacrifice your own time and needs for them.  You will be amazed at the outcome and realize that it was completely worth the sacrifice. 

Go ahead.  Try it out and see what blooms!  Share with me if you would like.