Once upon a time there was a gardener who was constantly perturbed that grass always grew abundantly everywhere except on his lawn, which seemed to be a haven for moss. Not only did this fact disturb him but each Spring he would commence an unequal battle in his tiny garden, usually full of optimism that this year will be different, that something would grow that thrives on more than just neglect or that could be harvested at a time other than the 2 weeks when the gardener was holiday in August. The gardener remained optimistic even though it appeared he had learnt little from previous years where he had adopted a similar approach with little success!
“It is a new beginning again as Spring is here bringing with it the promise of a new start: a new beginning,” said the gardener who surveyed his garden with a spade in hand.
You see this gardener had a very strange idea of how to keep his garden. He would make a good start each Spring, clear his small patch, dig it, manure it, and plant numerous seeds and plants but then, rather than continually tending his patch, he became somewhat distracted by other interests that kept him from his garden. There was the FA Cup Final, the joy of looking after his grandchildren, the unseasonable weather, the need to shop and buy stuff, friends who came to call as well as his other jobs and the fact that he was too tired to face the prospect of getting out in the garden.
Soon the seeds and plants began to grow but so did all the weeds. There was no time for pruning the fruit bushes or digging up the weeds, the grass on the lawn soon passed 6 inches and started to seed. There was an abundance of foliage but little evidence of fruit as the summer progressed. Numerous weeds choked the plants he wanted to cultivate. The slugs and caterpillars moved in stripping many of the plants of their health and vitality. A mole took centre stage in the lawn leaving ample evidence of subterranean activity.
Meanwhile the gardener continued to pursue his other interests paying little regard to the garden even though he walked down the garden path many times each day. It was as if the garden had disappeared from his consciousness.
Then early one morning in the autumn having enjoyed a leisurely summer doing not a lot in the garden, the gardener stepped out of his house and paused to look at the garden. It was a mass of brambles and ivy. He could make out some of the plants he’d planted in the Spring, but many of them had simply not made it. They had been choked by the weeds or eaten by the insects.
“How did this happen?” he asked himself.
Then he had a moment of self-revelation, came to his senses, and realised that being a gardener was not just a bolt on to life – it was about life itself, that the garden needed constant tending and care. If the garden was not the top priority then weeds would grow, insects would eat everything. He lamented the lack of pruning. He could see with his own eyes that his garden looked very green but there was little or no fruit. It might look healthy if you glanced at it quickly – plenty of green stuff – but closer observation quickly revealed the true state of the garden.
“I have been a fool again,” thought the gardener. “I have neglected my garden for another season and I will reap what I have sown because of my neglect. There is hardly any fruit or plants that I want in my garden. It has been overtaken by weeds.”
Jesus’ words came into his mind “Seek first my kingly rule, my integrity, and all these things will be yours as well”. “This garden is my life,” he thought. In that moment he was thankful that despite the mess that confronted him he knew he was offered a new beginning. He could only transform his garden if he transformed his life – root and branch – he determined that he would not pass up this new beginning; there was time still to produce fruit, even though it was late in the season.