Chris and I, like millions of other people around the world, took up gardening in 2020 as a way to occupy ourselves while spending much more time at home than usual. After an unsuccessful gardening season last summer, I decided it would be a good idea to re-landscape our front yard. By hand. Just the two of us. What I imagined would be a project for several weekends has now stretched over several months as we’ve moved wheel-barrel loads of sandy earth from one spot to another, dug up weeds, built planters, spread out compost, and put seeds into new, fertile soil. It took longer than I anticipated, but at long last there is beauty beginning literally to sprout up from the ground.
It struck me today that my front yard garden is a picture of the Christian life of faith and mission. God has called each of us to join in the kingdom-creating work. God’s given each of us a little “plot,” a sphere of influence in this great, beautiful world, and we are to prepare the ground and dig out the things that are not of God and make space for flourishing.
And then we must trust God to bring up beauty from the ground we’ve prepared. For no matter how carefully I construct a garden bed or how precisely I measure the space between seeds, I cannot force flowers or tomatoes to spring up. The miracle of life is among the mysteries of God, as are the miracles of faith and hope and love.
In faith and mission too, God has called us to the labor of nurturing the ground, of preparing the way for beauty to spring up in our own lives and in the world around us, and in that space God moves to do what only God can do.
My new front yard garden is almost finished. Another day or two of work should do it. Yet I know it’s a project that will never be fully complete. The beds will need compost and fertilizer again next year. Annual flowers will fade and need to be replaced. There will always be weeds to pull. So too, our calling to join God in the kingdom-creating mission is lifelong. We are created and called to grow ever more deeply rooted in faith and to nurture space for God’s beauty to spring forth around us.
Melissa serves as the Interim Coordinator of Missional Engagement at First Baptist Church Wilmington NC.