We have a 25’ x 50 ‘ vegetable garden in our yard and I have a small lettuce and herb garden outside my back door. These gardens take a lot of work! In the beginning, it was tilling up the soil, and because we broke new ground, we’ve been picking rocks – and lots of them. Prepping the space alone was back breaking. Next came the planting, watering, and tending, and now the plants are up. We have invested time and money, and we are determined to have the best yield we can. We’ve laid straw between the rows and around the plants to help hold in moisture and keep the weeds at bay. It’s all going to plan, right? We have a new daily battle: keeping the turkeys who have taken up residence in our woods OUT of the garden. They scratch the straw into piles covering the plants so they can get to the insects in the dirt. Up until now we’ve been trying to avoid the expense of a fence surrounding the garden, but it might become a necessity.
The point is this: The food doesn’t grow itself. It takes hard work, determination, and dedication in order to have a successful garden.
The bigger point is this: Like the determination required to grow a garden, loving God requires hard work and perseverance to overcome obstacles like rocks, weeds, and turkeys. As in the garden, loving God requires our daily attention — leave the garden alone for a week and see what happens! In just a week, it will be overrun with weeds, the plants will be buried in straw (those turkeys!) and parched if there’s been inadequate rain. Compare this to the attention we give to the nurturing of the garden of our interior lives: how the interior self suffers from lack of nourishment and light and attention! In just one short week we can be in real trouble, overwhelmed by weeds, desperate for water and spiritual food.
In order to obey the single most important command of God – put him first, love him most – we must be committed to obedience and we must employ a resoluteness to carry it out. If we are lazy and don’t apply the strength of our will to carry out the great commandment, we will never get the job done.
I mess this up every single day in one way or another. The distractions of this life are intense and threaten to throw us off track at every turn. If we have any hope of loving God with all we are, all we have, and all we do, our full attention and all our strength are required.
Begin the day with Jesus. Spend the day with Jesus. End the day with Jesus.
This is my quest! Let’s be determined to give him first place, and nothing less. Yield the throne of your life to God, whose rightful place it is, and submit to his leadership in your life. Love him, surrender to him, and serve him with every fiber of your being. He deserves no less.
For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. –2 Chronicles 16:9a (NIV)