Reimagine God: God is like a gardener.
God loves to watch things grow. If you’ve ever felt like you’re never going to arrive at the a place of knowing it all or doing it all right, it’s okay, because watching things grow includes us. We are spiritually organic and God wants to be the gardener that grows us into the people He wants us to be. If we can reimagine what spiritual growth means, it becomes more about the process of growing and less about getting a place where we’re complete. Religion wants to control us to change our behavior but God wants to grow us to shape our character.
Then the LORD God took some soil from the ground and formed a man out of it; he breathed life-giving breath into his nostrils and the man began to live. Then the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the East, and there he put the man he had formed.
–Genesis 2:7-8 GNB
God created us with inherent goodness. He created soil that He called good. Then He used that good soil to create us. From the start of creation, humanity has had intrinsic value because we were created from something God nurtured and called good.
That means you matter. Your work matters, your gifts matter, your tears matter, your pain matters, your joy matters, your successes matters, your failures matter, your memories matter, your childhood matters, your past matters, your future matters, your relationships matter, your hopes matter. All of these things are the matter that make up the soil in our lives.
I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.
–John 15:1-5 NLT
Pruning is the act of removing the parts of a plant that are no longer producing fruit so they don’t take vital nutrients the rest of the plant needs to continue to grow and thrive. As people, pruning can feel like punishment because it requires losing pieces that are no longer doing anything to benefit us. But pruning is not God’s way of punishing us for our sins. He is removing things in our path that are not good for our growth. Our job is to remain planted in Him and to allow Him to do His work as the gardener with a greater vision.
Sometimes it means staying rooted in the soil or situation we desperately want to be pulled out of. Terroir is a French term used to describe the environmental factors that affect a crop, including unique environment contexts, farming practices and a crop’s specific growth habitat. It’s all about planting the right plant in the right soil with the exact makeup it needs. Could it be that God is trying to plant you in a unique context? Could it be that He needs you in the exact place you are currently in in order to help you grow?
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