Encouragement from the Word

"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth"
III John 1:4

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Master Gardener

My mother is a passionate gardener. She has lovingly tended her flowers and plants for more than 50 years. It is one of the joys of her life. During that time she has won many ribbons and awards for her lovely plants at various fairs and competitions. She has also been a faithful member of the local garden club for much of her life. If  you were to ask her to what she attributes her glorious bounty of blooming buds each and every year, she would probably say: good soil, lots of attention, and a great climate... as these are definitely essential elements of a successful garden.

 I believe we as Christian parents, can learn a lot from these basic gardening principles as we think about how to raise children who will love and honor God when they reach adulthood.

What do I mean by that? Well, I see our job as parents as being very similar to that of a gardener. We have these little sprouts that God has given us to take care of, to nurture, and to protect for a while. We are sort of like his junior gardeners. There are certain things we must do if we are to end up with beautiful, flowering, healthy plants. First, we must:

Prepare the soil

 If our children are to have the proper nutrients they need to blossom and grow then we need to plant in fertile, nourishing soil. How can we best accomplish this? We can:

 Take our children to church.

Not just any church, but a Bible-believing, gospel-preaching, people-loving church, where they can hear the Word of God, learn godly principles and surround themselves with others who love Jesus. They will learn to love the church and it's people and will most likely continue that legacy with their own children. We can also:

 Make sure our home is a loving and supportive place where our children know that they are special to God and that he has a plan for their lives.

 Is prayer and Bible reading a regular part of life in your home? Do you use spiritual principles to navigate life's unexpected and difficult moments? When your children come to you with issues and problems do you go with them to God's Word for the answers? Do you live out your faith in an upright and honest way in front of them? Children will do what you do ...not necessarily what you say. We can:

Surround ourselves with Christian friends who have the same values and desires for their own children.

Who are the people that you like to "hang out" with? Are they people who share and respect your spiritual values and goals? Having a larger network of Christian friends is so important for children. Invite families over that have children the same age as yours and help them to nurture those friendships. A support system of godly friends will serve to enrich the soil in which your children are growing. Another thing we can do is to:

Place our children in an educational environment that supports and upholds a Christian worldview.

Have you considered the environment...or soil...in which your children spend most of their time? That would be their educational environment, where they spend hours upon hours soaking up the  philosophies presented in the curriculum and the worldview and values of those who have a huge influence over them...their teachers and peers. This educational choice shouldn't be taken lightly but should be prayerfully and earnestly considered. Today we, as parents, do have choices in this matter. Whether your children attend a traditional school, a Christian school or are home schooled, they should be in a place where their Christian values are supported and encouraged. Next, we must:

Water, fertilize and weed

 What else is needed to grow a beautiful garden that will bring glory to God? Water, fertilizer...and frequent weeding. We can water our children with words of love and encouragement and with time on our knees praying for them. We can fertilize with calm, loving discipline and consistent training. And we can weed by rooting out bad attitudes and behaviors as they crop up, before they become habits. And lastly, we should:

 Sit back, relax and enjoy our garden

 There's no need to fret over giving just the right amount of water or applying a bit too much fertilizer. We all mess up! We are not perfect. But you see, God, the master gardener is the one ultimately in charge of how our garden turns out. He is the one who sends just the right amount of sunshine to warm our garden. He is the one who provides just the right amount of rain to water it. And he is the one who sends the storms and wind to blow against the fragile stems to strengthen them for what lies ahead.

There has to be a certain amount of faith and trust on our part, as there are things in this life that are out of our control. Fortunately...everything is in His control! We will all fail, time and time again, but the master gardener knows our hearts. He sees our faithfulness to him. He will reward parents whose hearts are turned toward Him, for he loves our garden even more than we do.

If we are faithful, someday we will look out of our window and see a garden in full bloom, having reached it's full potential, spreading it's beautiful blossoms before the world. And all the glory will go to...

The Master Gardener!

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