I tried to grow a garden once. It was a lot of back-breaking labor with very little fruit. We plowed and hoed and planted and watered and weeded and fertilized and picked. All for a couple of heads of broccoli and some peas.
I never tried it again.
But this year I thought I could handle a few container plants. The best I got was a shriveled green tomato the size of a golf ball.
I must admit, though, that my gardening skills aren’t the best. I tend to be too impatient, wanting to get results without too much invested. Even with all the time we spent on our garden that year, I didn’t take the time to read and study and find out the best practices for a flourishing garden. I just wanted to enjoy the fruit.
You CAN Thrive Even Now
There is a law at work that the Bible teaches us–the law of sowing and reaping. In our fast-paced culture, we tend to look for the shortcuts. But some things take time, and gardening is one of them.
In fact, there are a multitude of verses in the Bible about planting, growing, and producing fruit. It’s a popular metaphor in Scripture because it’s one most people can understand, especially the original hearers of the Word who didn’t get their vittles from Food Lion.
In fact, God started the whole thing with a Garden.
“Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; there he put the man he had formed. And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground–trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”Genesis 2:8-9, NIV
We all know the story. The man and the woman God created were told they could eat from any fruit in the Garden, except from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But the Tempter drew them to the forbidden fruit. Sin and pain became their new reality.
Then He planted a particular people in a particular land, calling them to be set apart only unto Him. But they continually yielded bad fruit.
“I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest of vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well. Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit.”Isaiah 5:1-2
Isaiah tells us over in verse 7 that Israel was that vineyard. And they struggled to follow God in a world full of idols. The planting of the Lord resulted in a poor crop, and we can all identify. The metaphor transcends time and culture because even I can understand the heartbreak of bad fruit.
But God’s heart for His people was always one of love and hope. Even in the midst of priests, prophets, and kings who turned away from Him, our Lord would remind them of this truth: They could choose where they would be planted.
Planted by the Streams
You see, the nation may have been physically planted in a particular land between two rivers, but each individual could choose where he would be spiritually planted.
And water seemed to be the key to fruitfulness.
“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.”Psalm 1:1-3
The stream God called them to be planted by was His Word, delighting in and meditating on it daily. It was the key to a fruitful life for God’s people. Just as water relieves a parched ground and causes things to grow, the Word is like water for the thirsty soul.
The Hebrew word translated prospers means to succeed or have victory, not to be materially wealthy. It was a promise of spiritual blessings.
In the House of the Lord
God’s people may have been surrounded by pagan idols and enemy nations, but they could choose to walk in victory if they planted themselves in the right place: Living according to God’s Word and dwelling together in His presence.
“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age. They will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, ‘The LORD is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.'”Psalm 92:12-15
The Hebrew word translated flourish means to sprout, blossom, or bear fruit. The house of the Lord was where God’s presence dwelt. If God’s people would continue to worship and seek Him together in His temple, they would grow and thrive.
How much more should we who have the Word made flesh (John 1:14) and His very presence within us (Acts 2:38-39) and among us when we gather as one? As Peter once said,
“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who has called us by his own glory and goodness.”2 Peter 1:3
We have everything we need for life–not just eternal life but real, vibrant, flourishing life right now. I’m not talking about the world’s idea of prosperity where everything is rich and everyone is perfect.
Even in Difficult Times
I’m talking about life that thrives even in the midst of chaos, confusion, sickness, doubt, fear, and turmoil. This is life that’s planted in the Word and in the house of the Lord.
It’s a life that flourishes and grows because it’s meant to be lived in community, alongside sincere believers who support and encourage one another, who step in and hold each other up and hold one another accountable.
Yes, you can thrive and grow. Even now. No matter what you are going through today. You have what you need if you have Jesus. It just depends on where you choose to be planted.