This article is written by Michelle Mackey for the Deeply Rooted Devotional series. To submit a guest blog, click here.
Spring is finally here! Winter has broken, the snow has melted, and flowers are sprouting. While I’m excited to spend more time outside in the warm weather and sunshine, I also know it’s time to clean up all the dead leaves and plants from last year to make way for new growth.
As I tend to the flowerbeds around my house, I also take the opportunity to cultivate my spiritual life. You can too.
Now that winter is done, it’s time to evaluate your flowerbed’s condition. Take a few minutes to observe your spiritual flower bed. What kind of state is it in? Do your spiritual flowerbeds need a touch-up or a complete overhaul? Are there old dead plants? Weeds or other plants sprouting already? Or Is it a clean bed of dirt, ready for planting?
“When you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent,”Psalm 4:4
Clear dead stuff
First, clear away the dead stuff and weeds planted in your heart and life. This dead stuff hinders our growth, much like a thick layer of leaves kills grass. Ask God to show you what to let go of and what to pull. Just like the dead growth from last year.
- What isn’t working for you?
- Where are you going through the motions?
“Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you,”James 1:21
Identify and Pull weeds
Part of cultivating a new flowerbed is to clear out all the unwanted items. Every spring I struggle to identify what’s planted in my gardens. Ask the Father to guide you in weed identification. Practice patience as you wait to determine what is a weed or plant. The Father knows what will bear fruit. Bathe this process in prayer and a listening spirit.
- Are there habits or thoughts growing that aren’t supposed to be there?
- “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice,” Ephesians 4:31.
Pray for courage to pull the weeds God leads you to. Then throw the dead stuff and weeds in God’s compost bin. He is faithful and just and will transform those items into beautiful compost!
Not all plants are meant to grow in all locations. Plants need the right amount of sun, soil, and water. Do not judge the flowers God asks you to grow with the flowers your neighbor grows. Conditions in each garden are different. Just because your neighbor can grow tomato plants, does not mean you’ll be able to.
For example, my neighbor grows beautiful tomato plants, and I cannot because of the black walnut tree in my backyard. Optimistically one year I bought 6 tomato plants and planted them. My total tomato yield was 5 marble sized tomatoes for the entire season. Why? Walnut trees produce a chemical which inhibits the growth of nearby plants. Lesson learned.
Instead, work with the garden you’re given and compare only your past to your present. Those hopes, dreams and joys that are uniquely yours.
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well,”Psalm 139:14
Compost weeds and dead stuff
Only a gardener could see a pile of old leaves, twigs and apple cores and be excited about the possibilities. Most people see those things as useless, however, those things when mixed and given time, process into compost which enriches the soil.
When you have weeds such as fear, worry, resentment, bitterness, or gossip, throw them into God’s compost bin. He transforms them into beautiful, life-giving compost to enrich your roots in Him.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose,”Romans 8:28
Putting new plants in is fun. You literally plant hope in the ground. Hope for warm weather and sunshine. Hope of beauty in the flowers to bloom.
Arranging new plants amidst already established ones brings new life to your spiritual garden. If you have spiritual disciplines you practice on a regular basis, try a new spiritual discipline. Look at the following list to try something new.
Spiritual Disciplines: study, prayer, fasting, confession, worship, fellowship, rest, celebration, service, generosity, chastity, or disciple-making.
For example, if you study and pray, try fasting.
See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being, I announce them to you,”Isaiah 42:9
Water and Watch Grow
You’ve done a lot of work on your spiritual garden. Time for a rest, a sabbath. Time to savor the labor put in and wait for the sunshine and rain to grow the seedlings God planted in your heart.
- Read the word to allow God’s Son to shine on your heart.
- Spend time with Him to let his Word soak into your thirsty heart.
- Pray to allow hope for new growth to flourish in your garden.
Allow the sunshine and water of His presence to bless your soul as you become deeply rooted in Him!