An Unfinished Product

3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1: 3 – 6 (NIV).

When Dale bought our home the only thing growing in the yard was one tree.  He planted a few bushes and a dwarf tangerine tree but the yard was largely unimproved when we got married.  I was both thrilled and depressed about the state of the yard.  On one hand it was a clean slate – I had visions of us creating our own Garden of Eden.  On the other hand it was a great expense just waiting to happen.  Plus I wondered when we would ever have shade in the backyard.

The house before Dale purchased it - there's the one tree in the front yard!

We decided to take baby steps with our landscaping efforts.  First I planted items I kindly received from family members.  Next we got a few plants at a nursery.  Then we strategically planted a Tipu tree in the backyard where it would provide the most shade.  We chose a Tipu because it is supposed to grow multiple feet each year, so we should have shade in about four years, right?  Ugh.

It’s easy to get down and overwhelmed about the great task before us, but I don’t want to view our yard as a burden.  Instead, I want to see it as an opportunity for personal growth, adventure, learning from mistakes, and practicing waiting.  It’s likely we’ll never see the yard live up to its full potential and I need to be okay with that.  Isn’t that the way our faith is?  When we accept Jesus as our Savior we are a clean slate – no trees, no fruit.  Then as our faith develops the Holy Spirit plants seeds of joy, love, faith, goodness, gentleness, kindness, patience, peace, and self-control in our hearts and helps us grow in each of these areas throughout our lives.  The exciting yet intimidating part of this is that we will still be an unfinished product when we meet our Lord in heaven because it is only there that we can be perfect.

Dale and the Tipu - we're using his 6' 2" size to gauge the growth - go Tipu!

Now that I’ve accepted that my walk with God is a constant work in progress I view each day as a chance to grow in one of the fruits of the Spirit. I know I’ll grow and then regress constantly throughout my life, but just like planting things that never take root or die after thriving for a few months, I have to accept that God loves me despite my regressions, and that he celebrates every new seed that is planted and every fruit that ripens in my walk with Him.

Song for Meditation:  Wait and See by Brandon Heath

Note: This week I’ll be starting a new series entitled Recreating the Garden of Eden in which I’ll post stories and pictures on the progress of our landscaping efforts.  I’ll also share things we learn through our efforts.  I hope you’ll join us on our journey and will share your stories, too.


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