In 2001, my wife and I purchased a parcel of land to eventually build a house. This land was not the "prettiest" lot in the subdivision; yet, it looked like it had potential. After several summers of "cleaning up" here and there, I finally gave up until it was time to build.
Then, it was time. In 2007, we broke ground. Fortunately, being in the construction industry in my secular work, I had access to two major things...a contact with a dozer, and a builder with a bobcat!
The site work began. the day that the dozer started, I asked the operator if he would make at least one pass through the jungle of cane poles, barb bushes, wild plum trees, and fallen timber in what we now have as our "back yard" where my serenity garden now lives.
Man, it looked so much better...I thought. My wife hated it. But, for the first time, we could see the old civil war rock wall (please don't be offended), and I could manage cleanup much better.
Fast forward to 2014. The "woods" as we call them have become a sort of sore spot for me. It seemed like all I did was try to keep up with fallen timber, clean poison ivy (highly allergic), and think "man, it would be so nice to have some grass growing on top of that dirt!" Now, again, my wife likes the "natural" look with fallen trees, vines, and leaves. I can't stand it...so, the woods are "half and half" now. Half keeps being my goal to clean up, and half I just look at and say "yuck".
Our daughter decides to get married....a year sooner than we expected...in my yard...
enter ninja-groundskeeper. I worked on this yard every free moment of time I could find...even taking off from work some. I have to say, on the wedding day, the yard looked really good. But, the reception...well, it was in the woods. For two months, I spread grass seed, watered, fertilized, cut timber, blew leaves...you get the picture. I wanted the woods to look like I wanted them. And fast.
No go! Although the time I spent was productive, the ground just did not receive the seed that was sown. A few green spots would pop up, but then they would pass away. I finally gave up.
Wedding complete. No major yard work to do in 2015. Had some things on my mind one day and decided that I would build a place for me to read my Bible, sit, relax, write blogs (as this one is being written from which today), and do something with these ugly woods. So, I chose a fairly flat spot where we had moved a large patio furniture set (fire pit table, couch and chairs) that my mom and dad gave us as a house warming present, and started framing in the picture. With some help, I moved the arbor used in Katelyn's wedding in the lower part of the yard to the "entrance" of what would become the "serenity garden". Then, I raked out a path, filled it with various gravels, stepping stones, made it wind through some trees and put solar lights next to it. (Yeah....they don't work in the woods). Then, a few days later, I decided that it needed more. Landscaped a bit around it. Bought two pallets of sod and laid them in a square pattern around the furniture because there was just weeds and dirt currently, and I was happy. Almost.
A few days later, I fOund myself picking up fallen limbs to carry to a spot in the yard I usually burned brush. Hey, wait a minute! I can just build a fire pit up here and burn them here! So, that afternoon, it was a stop by a DIY store, and a few hours later, voila...a fire pit.
Serenity had begun. Birds chirp, deer walk through, the sun rises over the trees to give some beautiful color each morning. It was perfe- who am I kidding!!!??? I STILL did not have grass on top of this dirt!
So, off to the store I go. 50 pound bag, then another, then 20 at the co-op, then 10, then 20, then 50, then a different blend...it just was not growing. And, on top of that, I had a raccoon destroying the sod that had been laid! So disheartening.
I gave up. Again. Watering became a chore instead of a challenge. Walking through to see those beautiful new blades of grass was counterproductive as it killed many that I stepped on. I bought no more seed. Now, keep in mind, I did not tarry the soil at all since it is sort of loose anyway, so you can see seed just laying dormant in places.
I finally decided that it just might not grow.
Then, it happened! I looked up one day walking to do my daily bible reading....and there was a green shadow! I had false hope as it had rained the night before and thought that it would just burn up like many other days in the late summer heat. I was wrong this time. We. Have. Grass!!!
The grass isn't very thick, and there are tons of bare spots, but as I walked to the serenity garden this morning, the sun was hitting it just right. It was absolutely beautiful.
Now, the reason that I tell this story is not to brag on my works, nor my patience, because a lack of each definitely can be found in this process. What it does show me is that the words of Paul ring gladly in many things today. Planting and watering are only a small part of what we can do in looking for a harvest. God is the one that gives the increase. No matter how much I worked on this grass, it was not going to grow, nor continue to grow without the Hand of God involved (rain, sunshine, resourceful ground). The same applies in our spiritual lives.
We can do works according to what God has required. We can be patient, or not, and wait for something to happen, and be disappointed when it doesn't happen the way we think it should, or we can watch the grass grow day by day while God gives that increase!
I received a text message yesterday from a person who has been taught that baptism is not as important as saying a prayer, or "asking" Jesus into your life. We have studied together in times past. He has read various books such as Muscle and a Shovel. He has several friends on social media that are preachers and members of the church...but he has still been holding on to this false teaching of baptism being a minute part of salvation and not being essential.
His words yesterday reminded me of the tender grass in the woods. He said "I have not found one convert in the New Testament that was not baptized." We continued talking for a bit, and I hope, and am praying this very morning that his heart will continue to open in seeing this absolute truth of the word! Many have planted this seed. Many have watered. But, now, it is time for us to allow God to give the increase! Let's watch some grass grow!