The Gospel & The Vegetable Garden
What does a vegetable garden and theology have in common?
Much. And no, I didn’t say ‘mulch’.
People grow their own veggies for a variety of reasons, apart from the obvious one: food. I won’t say free food, because if you’ve ever worked your own vegetable garden, there is a price to pay, and I’m not talking just about buying seeds, tools or machinery (for all you industrialists out there).
We (my near-perfect wife and I) have a garden almost every year, and I’ve always looked forward to the effort of trying to make it better than last years. Of course, it doesn’t always work out that way, but it sure is exciting to dream about it during the winter. Hopes can get high, plans meticulous, and ambitions in the stratosphere, even before the snow melts and the spring teases you with warm weather.
I love gardening. I love everything about it…almost. I come from a long line of vegetable gardeners, and grew up listening to my father’s stories of how my grandmother would have he and his brother work the soil – before school mind you—and continue to work the garden afterwards. My father and his brother worked that soil until it was soft powder, and anyone who knew my grandmother knew that she kept a watchful eye from the kitchen window to make sure they did it right. It was serious business. The food grown would be packed away in the freezer and enjoyed all year long, or as long as it was in the freezer.
In short, pretty much everything I know about gardening and vegetables I learned from my parents and grandparents.
Boy, would they be disappointed if they saw my garden today.
Weeds. They just won’t go away. Mosquitoes. They absolutely love me, and who could blame them, seriously?
Aside from the pleasure of reaping the harvest after much hard work and tender caring for young seedlings, canning (wife), vacuum-packing (wife again) and putting it all away in the freezer (guess who does that?), or stocking the pantry till there’s just no more room, there’s another reason I love gardening.
Now wait. I don’t mean gardening incites my sin (well, sometimes), but rather, it reminds me of it. And by reminding me of sin, I get reminded of the Gospel and my continuous need for it, for Christ, and grace, and it makes me think of the cross and what Jesus did for me, and I get reminded over and over and over again, every time I look out the window early in the morning, peeking through the blinds while sipping that first cup of coffee to see how the garden is progressing….or how far I’m behind in weeding and caring for it.
See, when I look out the window, or if I’m out there pulling weeds, hoeing or harvesting, pruning, whatever – I get reminded of the Gospel.
Man’s first vocational calling was to work the soil (Genesis 2:5, 15).
After man sinned against God, God cursed it. (Genesis 3:17-19).
That’s why we have weeds in vegetable gardens.
That’s why I love gardening.
It reminds me of sin, the Gospel, and Jesus, who despite the curse, bore it for me, redeemed me and made me His own precious possession.
But I still hate the mosquitoes out there…..