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Spring has whispered its way into mid-March. What’s long been down and defeated is beginning to rise in victory. Photosynthetic smiles sprout from the earth and call for tamping and tending. Color is coming back into the cheeks of the world.
My wife rushes passed me in the kitchen. “I can’t wait to get out there and garden soon!” The initial emotion that surfaces isn’t passion; it’s puzzlement. We have to do this all over again, don’t we? The pruning and transferring, the weeding and mulching—dig, dampen, tamp, water . . . repeat. Gardening is an iterative process. What we do once, we do again, and again, and again. It’s very easy to question the purpose of it all. Why are we putting ourselves through this every year? Why isn’t gardening a once-and-done? The answer to those questions seems to have divine roots.
The God Who Gardens
God, you know, was a gardener. “And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed” (Gen. 2:8). The Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Ghost—isn’t just a Creator. God is a planter, a gardener, and he’s always had that proclivity because he’s the source of life.
What’s more, God is a speaking gardener. The Father spoke his Son in the potent breath of his Spirit, and grass grew. Flower stems spouted and curled into bulbs. Hair-thin roots of trees hugged the soil and pushed skinny saplings towards the burning light of the sun. . . . . Oh yes, long before sin stained the world, God loved to garden.
Why? It’s hard to say, really. But one possible answer is quite simple: God loves growth; he loves the process—the burgeoning of greatness through well-kept greenery. We’re obsessed with products, so we find it strange that God would love the process itself. But why else plant a garden?
Why God Keeps Gardening
But God’s gardening doesn’t stop with Eden. In fact, his greatest gardening came in his speaking of gardeners, of us. The first humans were meant to be mimetic, working the land and tending to the plants and trees that God himself had tended (Gen. 2:15). We were meant to be gardeners after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:14). But we dropped our divine spade and stood by a serpent who skulked around in the shadows.
In that moment, when we chose the words of a creature over those from the life-giving Gardener, the spade came back to God’s own hand. His gardeners were now corrupted. Would he continue to tend them? Would he leave them to the soil?
The great Gardener took up his love for growth and process in us through his plan of redemption. You and I became God’s garden, desperately in need of divine tending for any hope of salvation. And so the Trinity tended us, at great cost.
Why We Keep Gardening
That, in essence, is why get out the spade and shovel and gardening gloves each year. Why do we keep gardening? The simplest answer is that God is cultivating in us a love of growth buried deep in his own heart, a love always threatened in this world by darkness and death, but a love which perseveres. A love that keeps going. A love that grows. We keep gardening because God keeps gardening.
Now, what spadework is in front of you today?
Like what you read? Have a look at chapter 6 in Finding God in the Ordinary. I think you’ll be encouraged.
Want to read more about the spoken nature of reality? Check out chapter 3 in The Speaking Trinity & His Worded World. The world all around you was spoken, and so it speaks of God.