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photo credit: Kathryn Fletcher
You went to the classes. Listened to the messages. Sang the songs. And somewhere in the midst of it all, God reached in and tweaked something inside you. You heard Him.
Maybe it was like a lightning bolt to your heart. Maybe it was a tiny seed that He planted and is barely beginning to sprout. It could be a cloudy something that has been in your mind for months, only now it is crystal clear.
Conviction of sin. A call to ministry. Light for the next step. Purpose.
Whatever it is, He spoke and you listened.
Growing What God Has Planted
Can I tell you what you don’t want to do? You don’t want to garden like me. (Hang in there, you’ll understand in a minute).
I’m an awful gardener. The worst.
My son works for a greenhouse and brings me plants every year. This year I even paid my younger son to clean the weeds out of my garden box before I planted anything. Starting fresh, I was hoping to do better this year.
Then summer life happened. We travel for week-long camps and conferences, I’m working more hours tutoring, and well… it’s hot outside and there are bugs. My gardening efforts this summer were mostly me looking out the window and saying,
June: There are some weeds starting to come up, I should get out there and pull them.
July: When did the weeds get taller than the plants?
August: Ugh. Maybe I’ll do better next year.
I actually went out there for the first time today. Ugh is right.
Of the two tomato plants that were still visible, one was completely dead and there are rotten tomatoes in the dirt.
I found one ripe pepper hidden amidst the weed forest. Couldn’t even identify the rest of the pepper plants.
The one tomato plant that still has some hope is one that I did put a cage around when I planted it, so it has had some support.
Surely you see where I’m going with this analogy.
Friends, God has planted a seed in your heart. You are filled with hope at what He can do with it and you want that seed to grow and produce fruit in your life. Maybe even desperately. You want to walk the path that He is lighting for you. You want to obey Him.
But just like my garden was overgrown with weeds and turned into a real mess, so will your heart return to what comes naturally if you aren’t intentional.
A wise old owl I know said that people gain enthusiasm more quickly than they gain confidence.
I love that!
You are excited at what God has spoken to you. You have hope in what He has planted. That’s enthusiasm! But learning to grow it and actually change your life takes confidence and experience. It takes time.
Camp builds enthusiasm, and God capitalizes on that to get your attention. But real and lasting change takes time
8 steps to grow what God has planted and change your life:
Surround yourself with people who will encourage the growth in you. Impossible, you say? Find one. Just one. One person from camp, from your church, or your family, who makes you want to be the person God designed you to be. And make it a point to talk to them regularly.
Stay in touch with people from camp. Social media is a breeding ground for not-so-positive things, but it is also a tool you can use to stay in touch with positive influences. Use it.
Give God and people permission to call you out. What kid ever asks their parents for discipline? Probably none ever. It’s not intuitive. Try it anyway. Ask God to correct you when you go the wrong way. Ask Godly people in your life to remind you of your goals.
Read your Bible. Every day. This is an opportunity for God to speak directly to you. You don’t have to read the whole thing (or even 1/2) at one sitting– read one chapter! It will take you 10 minutes. If you’re unsure where to start, this page has information on how to get started, which translation you might prefer, etc. Another resource to check out is this site that shares a daily devotion. You can even get them delivered to your email so you don’t have to remember to check the site.
Pray. Ask God to remind you when you have some ‘weeding’ to do. Ask Him to close doors that will take you in the wrong direction and to shine a gigantic spotlight on the path He’d like for you to walk on.
God is speaking, friends. If we’re not hearing Him the problem is on our end, not His. I’m praying for you right now that anything that is blocking you being able to hear God’s voice would be removed so that you can hear Him clearly. And when you hear Him, that you would have the courage to obey.
Make a plan and do the work. Don’t just hope that things go the way you’d like them to. Don’t stand at your window and watch the weeds overtake what God has planted!
Look for the fruit. If you notice some weeds starting to overtake the good stuff, dig around a little. You might be surprised at what grew despite your neglect. Hold on to the good.
Don’t give up. Listen, this lone tomato plant is my baby for the rest of the season. I may not get a bumper crop, but I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that the ones that are on the vine survive. This little corner of my garden had some extra support due to the tomato cage that I put up. Likewise, you may find that even when your life feels overgrown there will be some areas that you can still see some hope.
When you finally take the walk out to examine the state of things, don’t quit because you’ve made a mess of it. Tend the fruit that is there. Remind yourself that you may never be a master gardener, but you can grow what God plants in your heart. Perfection isn’t our goal. Better is. And sometimes we need a few tries to get there. The Bible-y word for this is grace. Oh how I love grace.
But grace isn’t meant to excuse our sin, our missing God’s best. It’s meant to give us a second chance at it.
Paul said, “God’s grace to me was not without effect.”
What effect is God’s infinite grace having on you? Is it changing you? Making you into the person that God had in mind when He created you?
If you heard Him speaking into your life, you know that He wants something more for you. Lean into that. Take your enthusiasm and let it grow into confidence. You might not be exactly where you wanted to be next summer, but you can be a lot closer!
The God that created the universe wants to do a work in you. That is too cool to express, and too humbling to overlook.
How can we pray for you?