We often take spiritual growth for granted. After becoming Christians we go to church, read our Bibles, pray and trust God to complete the good work He began in us. (Philippians 1:6)But God’s purpose for every believer is steady spiritual growth which requires work on our part in tending our spiritual garden. Are you growing spiritually? Do you feel sluggish or stuck in your spiritual walk? Let’s head to the garden and learn an important practice for a healthy spiritual garden.
Welcome back to the garden for a time of Garden Grace, where we allow God to reveal Himself through His creation. Once a month we linger together gleaning all He has for us through the beauty of plants, trees, animals and insects. I can’t wait to share my most recent discovery with you!
Growing a healthy garden
As any good gardener will tell you, a beautiful garden requires work! As we plant and sow seeds in our physical gardens, so we plant and sow seeds of faith in our spiritual gardens. Stumbling upon the question, “Are you growing spiritually“, in a recent article peaked my interest.
It’s not a question I regularly ask myself, but my latest visit to the garden gave me pause for reconsideration. Frankly the article disappointed; listing only trifles, but inspired me to meditation upon the topic.
growing a garden requires attentiveness
I vividly recall the time I brought a pepper plant home from school. An elementary school science class “project”, we all planted seeds in a cup, watching them sprout and grow. Once too big for the cup, we took them home with instructions to plant them in our garden and document the progress.
While most of my classmates had help settling their little plants, I flew solo, using a kitchen spoon to dig a hole in the backyard and planted my pepper plant. Except for occasional watering, I paid little attention to the plant. Needless to say, the outcome was not as expected. While I learned nothing about pepper plants perse, I did learn plants require more than a shallow hole in the ground and sparse watering.
growing a garden requires skills
My next horticultural adventure involved geraniums; which I adore until this day. My grandmother loved geraniums and had them all over her house. Today, you can find various shades of reds and pinks, but back then, red geraniums ruled the roost.
Her geraniums bloomed all year round. One day she told me her secret: deadheading. As you may know, deadheading is the process of removing spent blossoms from a plant to encourage further blooming. Not all plants require deadheading, but geraniums and African violets, my second favorite house plant do.
Once I learned this little trick, my geraniums and African violets were the envy of all who saw them. I learned to deadhead other plants in my garden, roses, daisies, lavender and echinacea are a few. Still novice gardeners, my husband and I are learning about other plants and shrubs benefitting from deadheading, like rhododendrens.
deadheading promotes growth
We have numerous rhododendrens on our property which experienced extreme neglect at the hands of the previous owner. My husband is working very hard to save them and discovered they benefit from deadheading. Without deadheading, plants and shrubs go to seed and stop bearing fruit/flowers.
Many people find deadheading tedious, while others find it incredibly relaxing and rewarding. My husband falls into the latter group. He kindly shared the process with me, as it differs from simply removing the spent blooms on a geranium.
After spending over an hour one evening on the process, I was hooked! Sitting later that evening pondering this new found garden enjoyment, and the hope of rhododendren revival, the question “Are you growing spiritually?” came to mind again.
growing spiritually requires attentiveness
Contemplating the deadheading process and benefits in the garden prompted me to make application in the spiritual realm. Of course I considered the necessity of weeding; removing insidious hindrances left growing in my spiritual garden, but what would spiritual deadheading look like?
The more I sat with the idea, the more I embraced the appropriateness of the metaphor for the Christian life. The removal of dead, spent works, making room for even more growth. The reference isn’t to sinful habits, but the remnant of good things, now faded.
growing spiritually requires initiative
As we learned from our plants and shrubs, when deadheading is neglected, they cease to bear fruit or flowers. We experience the same problem in our spiritual lives. The previous owner of our property grew content with the meager blooming of his shrubs and neglected the vigilance necessary for abundant growth.
I realized my spiritual life suffers in the same way. I grow content with the current progress of my growth and service, neglecting the initiative necessary for the robust spiritual growth God expects. The faded blooms of past growth remain, hindering new growth.
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of GodHebrews 12:1-2
Sitting with the question, “Are you growing spiritually”, brought conviction for my lack of diligence in tending my spiritual garden. Just like our rhododendrens, I was in sore need of “spiritual deadheading”. Join me in Hebrews 12:1-2 for some biblical tips on spiritual deadheading.
In order for diligence to grow, we must remove carelessness, laziness or indifference. Growing content with your spiritual progress, you fall prey to delusion, thinking you accomplished enough. (James 1:22-25) As Hebrews reminds us, we run a race; which requires dedication and diligence to reach the finish line.
Growing encouragement necessitates the removal of hindrances. Things hindering our spiritual growth certainly point to sin, but also those things sapping our energy, attention and time for godly pursuits. Examine how you spend your free time, your money and your talents. God gives us good things for enjoyment, but when the enjoyment becomes the focal point, it hinders our spiritual growth. (1 John 2:15-17)
If you desire the cultivation of perseverance, remove uncertainty and indecisiveness. Inconsistency in Bible reading and prayer also causes us to waver in our commitment to growth. Our race is one of endurance which requires steadfast determination even when things get tough. (2 Timothy 2:3-4)
are you growing spiritually?
Lingering in the garden with the question, “Are you growing spiritually“, yielded not only more knowledge of caring for my physical garden better, but tending to my spiritual garden. Noticing the stagnant blooms in my life hindering the new growth God desired for me, prompted renewed diligence in keeping my spiritual garden, encouragement free of hindrances, and perseverance in the steadfast nurturing of my faith. All reminders for avoiding spiritual complacency and contentment with the status quo. I leave you with the same question, “Are you growing spiritually?” Or are you in need of spiritual deadheading today?
If you enjoyed reading this post, there’s more! Sign up for my weekly newsletters; a little slice of serenity delivered right to your inbox! As my “Thank-you” you will receive my FREE “Calming Techniques Guide” for signing up!