There are still gardens today, but with the investments in time and land that they require, there are not quite as many gardens as there used to be. If you don't believe me, go ask for tomatoes at your local fast-food drive-through. (They are a little short this season because of hurricanes and flooding.) In addition to the expense of gardening, some of us have two brown thumbs. Finally, gardens can be a positive thing to some and negative to others — e.g., fresh vegetables, fried okra, relaxation versus hard work, rotor-tiller work, bugs, and weeds.
What do relationships have to do with gardening?
Well, there was the relationship of God with Adam and Eve in Eden as well as their relationship with each other. If we look closely, I believe we can find several parallels between relationships and gardens. The points below have to do with our most important relationship with God, as well as relationships on this earth.
What do you need to do to have a great garden and great relationships?
- Spend some serious time in the garden
The garden has to have compost spread; it has to be fertilized, pre-weeded, tilled, seeded, spaced carefully, and watered continuously. This means a considerable time and work commitment. Look at the example of Jesus with his investment in time with his Father. (Luke 2:49; Matthew 14:23; Matthew 26:36-43)So how much time have you invested in those valuable relationship in your life?
- Understand what it takes to grow healthy plants
Study and understand what nourishes and aids in growth to the plants. Paul told Timothy to "Study" (KJV), "Give diligence" (ASV), "Work hard" (NLT), and "Do your best" (RSV) explaining the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)How much effort and investment have you put into books or seminars on the subject of relationships? Do you know how to meet the needs of your spouse and nourish him or her emotionally and physically?
- Look for the warning signs
There are hints when there are plants that don’t look normal. A diligent gardener is alert and quick to weed out problems in his garden. If you want a great garden you will need to learn about and understand weeds as well. You will need to catch those weeds early before they get their roots deep. "The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery ..." (Galatians 5:19)Are there hints that your relationship is in trouble? Are you eliminating the "love busters" and annoying behaviors before they sink their roots too deep?
- Use Neil Sperry as your guide
Neil is one of the top gardening experts in my area and he has a wealth of information to help novice gardeners. He knows his stuff, so gardeners pay careful attention to what he says. In relationships, God is the expert! "All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness ...." (2 Timothy 3:16-17) In addition, God sends us great examples on how to live and apply his truth in our lives and we should follow their example and ask for God's direction. (2 Timothy 3:16-17; Hebrews 13:7)Use older couples as marriage mentors and ask them how they have maintained their relationship over the years. But, more importantly, use the Bible as your first and foremost relationship guide.
- Pull out the weeds and dump them far away
Weeds are as determined as my allergies are in the spring. If they aren’t dumped at a distance they are destined for a comeback. "Flee from sexual immorality." (1 Corinthians 6:18-20)Many flirt with affairs but the Bible says sprint in the opposite direction and get far away from this relationship destroyer.
- Make sure the whole yard is healthy
Pay attention to the whole environment. Marriage intimacy has to do with being close mentally, physically, and spiritually. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)So how is the spiritual health of your life at home?
On the two acres that I own there is plenty of room for a garden. Do I have a garden? No, I have enough trouble with flower beds and getting my "brown thumbs" in them. But, I hope my wife would say that I spend investments in time, effort, books, seminars, and prayer in keeping the weeds out of our relationship garden.
So, how does your garden grow?