Growing Yard

Landscape Lessons

Oh, my yard!

I love it when things thrive and live and hate it when things wither and die. It all sounds quite simple. However, in the past few years, I’ve found a correlation between beautiful landscapes and beautiful souls.

Lovely landscapes don’t just happen. Preparing a beautiful landscape begins long before the flowers arrive.

The soul is cultivated in a similar way.

They Lied

It all started when I began to dig in the dirt.

When I moved to Texas, I noticed my yard lacked creative curb appeal. Updating the yard didn’t seem complicated; lots of hard work mixed with some creativity and a yard improvement magazine would fix things up. I hauled in 2,000 pounds of rock and stone, built flowerbeds and a cozy pathway, tilled and amended soil, and planted a few trees.

Curb appeal was over the top . . . for a while.

Slowly but ever so surely, things began to come apart. My English rose leaves became covered in black spots and died. My vibrant, colorful flowers wilted and expired. And what wasn’t dead was eaten up by the ever-increasing population of wild rabbits.

I tried everything. I added fertilizer, compost, anti-fungal sprays, water, organic material. I checked the pH levels. And I repeated the cycle with relentless resolve. Interestingly, every product I purchased promised to provide a beautiful, healthy landscape like the one pictured on the package.

They lied.

The Problem is Dirt

My husband and I attended one of those weekend home shows that had landscaping booths. I zipped from one to another until . . . until one guy told me the problem. It wasn’t the plants, sprays, water, or even the rabbits. The soil had a deeply webbed infection that attacked the roots of healthy plants, clotted up the soil, and sucked the plant dry. The prognosis was not grand . . . this infection was one of the worst any yard could have.

Healing the land required two seasons of amending the soil, constantly digging up the knotted webbing, replacing the Texas clay with healthy soil, irrigating well, and mixing into the ground “healthful bugs” (for lack of a better term) and worms, all of which would help kill the disease.

I kid you not; I thought parenting was painstaking until this yard problem exploded. I’ve spent the past several years carefully following directions, and hopefully, this year my plants will survive.

Curb Appeal

Like curb appeal, I’ve noticed there is a form of “Christian appeal.”

Many Christians appear lovely, as if they’ve got it all together . . . but upon closer inspection, their appeal is only skin-deep.

If our souls are not saturated with Christ, we quickly wither away. Our soul infection is sin; it weaves its webs around the roots of our souls, eventually leading to a worn out, withered soul.

Life-Giving Lessons

Using soil as a metaphor for the soul, here are three life-giving lessons.

  1. Find the root of the problem. Outer struggles and circumstances reveal areas where our soul needs God’s care. Believing a change of circumstances will offer a better life is like believing all those bottles of spray and bags of fertilizer will heal a diseased yard. Our real need is soul-healing. Proverbs 4:23 speaks well to this need: “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life” (NLT).
  2. Focus on the life-giving power of God’s Word. Psalm 119:105 says: “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path” (NLT). In my yard, I had to dig down beneath the surface and take out the infected stuff and put in the right nutrients—consistently and continually. God’s Word contains every nutrient for our soul, so we must consistently and continually put it into our lives. (See also Romans 12:1–2, Ephesians 6:10–17, Philippians 4:8–9.)
  3. Follow God’s direction as outlined in Scripture with deliberate, determined, and disciplined effort. I was given direction for cultivating healthy soil and followed it with deliberate, determined, and disciplined effort. The book of Deuteronomy tells us to love the Lord with heart, mind, and soul; the book of James speaks of having a congruent life—in mind, thought, word, and deed; Romans reveals a practicum, so to speak, for the Christian life. Following God’s Word with deliberate, determined, and disciplined effort will keep your soul healthy.

Let Me Hear from You

Questions:

  • Are you consistently cultivating your soul with the deliberate, determined, and disciplined study of God’s Word?
  • What has blossomed in your life as a result of your digging into God’s Word

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