Gardening always reconnects me with the grace of God. I have a hard time justifying it during the end of May, when I am busy with so many other things, both in the yard and with church meetings. In spring, time narrows. There a few precious hours to mow, till, plant, and weed, between the rains. And yet now, about a month into it, I find myself pausing and just looking at the vegetable plants. They are vigorous. Each one is a miracle. Jesus uses the pride that farmers have in their crops to talk about the graceful and organic way of the spirit. God scatters the seed of his word to the earth. It is received by the open heart of the soil. Good things spring to life. Everyone anticipates a bountiful harvest.
These images give rural people and gardeners an advantage in understanding the organic process of God’s love. The critical verse is Mark 4:28, “The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head.” Jesus says that the growth of holiness in our lives and in the world is an organic process, like the gradual transition of seed to plant to fruit to the easing of hunger. One could also speak of the process of acorn to oak to wood to house to home.
So the first question to ask may be, is holiness growing in your personal life in an organic and healthy way? You could ask the same question of your church. What about your neighborhood? Is there a healthy process of development; people needing shelter, to houses to homes and schools to young adults who leave the neighborhood to start lives elsewhere, remembering the values, missional mindset, and spirituality that they had been taught?
An organic process is something that occurs over time. Note how a tree branches out. The placement and direction of each branch is determined by the trees innate DNA and the direction the sunshines into that patch of the woods. The health of tree depends on many factors, the most important though involve the water and nutrients the tree has at its roots and the skill set of defense mechanisms the tree has at its disposal. The total process, Jesus tells us, is a miracle.
How do we become spiritual and holy people? Do we want to be saved, healed, or made holy?
Jesus says that this is an organic process. The farmer does a certain amount of work, but he mostly watches his field, and the seed “of itself” produces the plant, which “of itself” produces the wonderful harvest. Like a tree, where we are rooted spiritually matters. We need a healthy church fellowship to grow properly. But our spiritual journey springs up in a mysterious way from within us. Becoming holy is an organic process. We engage in spiritual disciplines, but mostly we observe and try to be a partner with God for the harvest that he alone can bring about.