A Plan for Growth
Spring – the time of year that thoughts turn to baseball. Or, rather growth. I meant to say growth. New growth. Like the beautifully green and perfectly manicured diamond of a ball field. Wait, I mean like the row upon row of fresh garden greens, and peas, radishes, onions, and asparagus.
Pastor Joe has said many things I thought were pretty smart, and once I heard him say that to successfully garden in the Ozarks, you have to do everything right, and then pray that God smiles on you. Gardening in the Ozarks is not like other places in America. For a time after finishing school, I lived in the Missouri River valley in extreme northwestern Missouri. It was said the county we lived in averaged eleven feet of topsoil. I decided it would be a sin to have such rich and abundant top soil and not grow a garden. And, it was easy. One Saturday morning, I rented a garden tiller, tilled up a 24’ x 48’ patch of my yard, and planted neat rows of seeds. After that, I did a little weeding now and again, then waited for the harvest. We had, literally, tons of produce. We could not eat, freeze, or can it all, so we gave much of it away. It was great.
Later, when I moved back to Branson and had built a new house, I asked a friend from northwest Missouri who was a landscape architect to come down for a visit and prepare a landscaping plan for my new lot. My friend Bob took one look at my new place and said, “Hudd, you don’t have any soil.” He then paused and added, “You don’t even have any dirt!” I guess professionals see a difference between the two. So, with Bob’s plan in hand, I paid for several loads of soil (or was it dirt?), and many, many huge blocks of quarried limestone to construct retaining walls to hold my new soil in place. I took a week off of work and with heavy equipment and a hired crew, got the walls built, the soil placed, and the landscaping plan all planted. Oh, and the Irrigation system needed to keep it all alive.
Where we live now, we have a very small lot, none of it is flat, and none of it has any soil – or dirt, for that matter. I again made a retaining wall, much smaller and with smaller boulders of ledgestone I spent the greater part of a year gathering. I also created a few raised beds; some for vegetables, and some for flowers. Again, we had to bring in all the soil for the yard and the planting beds, then planted seeds, hoping to walk away and forget it. But, as Joe indicated, you have to fight and scratch for every thing you grow for weeks before you plant then continue clear through to harvest (if the deer and groundhogs don’t get it first). Hoeing and weeding, adding compost and fertilizer, planting, watering, weeding again, and more watering and weeding, and trapping varmints intent on robbing you of all your hard-earned produce. It’s never easy to raise a garden in the Ozarks.
It is not that easy to raise a human being in this world, either. Whether yourself, or someone you are responsible for, growing in Christian maturity is like successfully growing a garden in the Ozarks. And, much as you need a well-conceived plan to successfully raise a garden, growing a mature Christian needs the right combination of ingredients. Peter gave us such a plan in
2 Peter 1:4-8:
For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
You cannot simply plant your seed and hope to reap a bountiful harvest. There are too many factors working against you (read, also, the parable of the sower, Matthew 13). Raising your kids, helping your spouse, or your brother, or your parent, or friends, and especially yourself, to grow into mature, functioning Christians, requires following the right plan. The good news is, the Lord will smile upon you. Harvest guaranteed.
~ Hudd ~
(Kevin Huddleston – Elder at Fellowship at Cross Creek Church Branson, MO)