Have you ever been in a lopsided relationship? This subject seemed to come up more often when our children were young, and we were trying to teach them about how to choose good friends. Relationships matter, and they should be balanced. My mother always said, “To have a good friend, you have to be a good friend.” There’s give and take.
As I was thinking about this, it made me think of our garden. For a good portion of the year it feels like we’re in a lopsided relationship. Here is this thing. This huge thing that takes up so much of our time and thought. Every time we step outside or turn around it’s there, waiting. We spend money on it. We spend time, a lot of time, on it. We do everything that we possibly can to please it, and we hope it reciprocates. Perhaps you relate.
Sometimes I get angry at it. I think, “We are working so hard, and you’re not cooperating!” Other times I’m impatient. “I know that we planted those seeds, but they’re not coming up. I feel like we’re pouring a lot in to you, and you are not giving back!” And then it happens. Just when I’m about ready to give up, I see it. A little seed is pushing its way up through the crusty soil. A tiny cluster of baby grapes on new growth. A lady bug crawling on the spinach. A bright red pepper.
And then I smell it. The delicate, sweet scent of chamomile. The fresh, intoxicating smell of elderberry blossoms. The earthy odor of the compost pile. The fresh and unmistakable smell of spearmint. Then I taste it. The juice of a peach right off of the tree; a warm, sun-kissed strawberry or a vine-ripened tomato. While walking back to the porch I hear the zipping of hummingbirds, racing around the feeders, and it occurs to me that this is not a lopsided relationship.
Our garden is so generous! To us it’s constantly revealing secret treasures and intimate things. Things that only those who spend quality time in it or care about it would see or smell or taste or hear. Things so small and hidden that unless you are looking for them you might miss them—like little black seeds that have fallen from the Tulsi blooms or the tiny hairs on the stinging nettle. Sometimes it gives big things. So big that you almost trip over them like bright orange pumpkins and sweet watermelons.
This garden is our friend, and so is its heavenly Keeper. We understand that we can do the planning and planting and watering and tending, but only God can do the growing. He uses our own hands to bless us. Only He can protect this garden from dangerous storms, and only He can bless us with abundant bounty. Only He can care for the beneficial insects, and only He can send the needed rains.
Are you seeing the picture? Our garden is just a conduit in which God uses to bless us. Yes, we have to work at it, and yes, we have to give to it. But there in the quiet minutes when our hands are dirty and busy, and our spirits are listening, He meets us and offers peace that passes all understanding. It’s there that He reveals His creativity and unlimited ability. We see His sense of humor, and we taste His goodness.
What’s in your life that God is using to manifest His goodness and show you His love? It might be something that you give time to or that you’re invested in. It’s probably not always easy, and at times, it may feel bigger than you, but God can use anything to reveal Himself to us—and He does! He wants us to see Him everywhere and in everything. He loves us so dearly that He died for us.
Talk about a lopsided relationship!
“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow” (James 1:17).
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).