My Dad is an avid yard work enthusiast with an eye for beautiful landscaping so naturally, my brothers and I did a lot of yard work growing up.
My eye for a nicely orchestrated landscape was definitely sharpened over the years of listening and watching my Dad take pride in how his lawn, trees, bushes, and plants all worked together to create a stunning landscape.
I’ve been reading a book by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend in which they explain that in order to have a center to your life, there must be boundaries.
Think about a circle. In order for there to be a distinct center, there has to be a circumference; something that defines the circle’s boundaries.
The same thing is necessary for a life centered on Christ. There must be a circumference; something that defines the boundaries of our lives or our spheres of responsibility: what we are and are not responsible for.
My Dad takes much joy and pride in how the lawn and landscaping looks within his property line. This is something that I truly admire about him, but it got me thinking – do I do the same when it comes to my life? Do I tend to, nurture, and cultivate a life honoring to the One who gave it to me?
Step 1: The Yard Work
I know from the hours my Dad would spend working in the yard that basic lawn care like mowing, trimming, and weeding takes a lot of work and time.
The process of pulling weeds, trimming up rough edges, and allowing room for new growth by pruning the bad takes time; and it’s not easy work either.
Mowing and trimming and weeding is a constant task; something that if ignored will result in a very tangled, poorly kept, ugly life.
This would involve weeding out the negative influences like negative friend groups, certain social media platforms, or bad habits and activities; trimming up areas where we live loosely such as our language, how we spend our time, our sense of humor, or how we speak to others; and consistently removing areas of our life that have grown dead in order to allow for new growth. This would include areas of old bitterness, ill feelings towards others, un-forgiveness, or old regrets and pain.
Step 2: Fertilizing
I remember being confused when I was younger as I watched my Dad fertilize. It didn’t look like he was doing anything important; just walking back and forth while spraying something on the grass.
There was no immediate, visible change. Yet as I got older and learned what fertilizer is and does, I understood why he did it so often.
Fertilizer is what provides grass and plants with the nutrients and vitamins they need to grow. It is what helps the lawn grow and produce vibrant colors and healthy life.
The process of fertilizing our lives does not often produce immediate or visible change, yet it is absolutely vital to growing a heart vibrant with life and spiritual health.
Time spent with the Lord in prayer and the study of His Word is what provides our hearts, minds, and spirits with the nutrients they need to grow. This doesn’t always produce immediate change as we often wish it would, but over time as we diligently feed our hearts and minds with the commands and promises of God’s Word, we begin to see a change in in how we think, in what we focus on, and in how we love others.
If my Dad were to have neglected fertilizing just because he didn’t see immediate results, our lawn would have never grown to be as beautiful and nourished as it did. It was important that my Dad knew the necessity for fertilizer as it is also important that we recognize the necessity for God’s Word.
Step 3: Landscaping
It always makes me chuckle right around this time of year when my Dad’s trees and bushes start to bud. He always gets really excited in planning new additions to the landscape, perhaps considering some plants that need to be removed, and always hoping for a summer without any damaging hail storms.
I remember when we first moved to the house my parents live in now though.
It was so barren.
There was one, scraggly tree in the back yard which has since been removed, but other than that there were no trees, no bushes, no greenery and no flowers.
It was barren.
If you were to see the property now you wouldn’t believe it was the same place. My Dad has been diligent and purposeful in turning that once barren landscape into something truly vibrant and beautiful; budding with life.
God has invited us into a beautiful life (1 Thessalonians 4:7). He calls us to cultivate and live a vibrant and beautiful life out of love for Him, nurtured by His love and grace for us.
My Dad was very intentional and thorough in picking out the right plants, the right kind of trees, and the right bushes that would complement one another and make the property look nice; filling the landscape with beautiful things.
What kind of beautiful things should we fill our lives with?
Perhaps things such as wholesome relationships, vibrant worship, budding ministries, and a purposeful lifestyle.
The thing about the landscape though is that it has to come after the hard work of lawn care and fertilizing.
We often try to display the fruit of the Spirit without actually cultivating a desire for the Spirit in our hearts and minds. Beautiful things such as wholesome relationships, vibrant worship, budding ministries, and a purposeful lifestyle are the products of much deeper work and toil.
What good is it to have many beautiful flowers and plants if the foundation is dead and ugly?
There are parallels between the need for yard work and ‘heart work.’ It is necessary to do the ‘heart work’ of weeding, trimming, mowing and fertilizing before being able to cultivate and enjoy a beautiful landscape.