From Soil to Soul: Unearthing Three Parallels of Gardening and Faith

Today we are going to explore the connections between gardening and faith. There are so, so many ties, and I’ve said this before, we can take our cues from nature on how things work in life and our relationships, and especially with God. The systems and processes that work in our life for our own good often mimic a system or process in nature, and I could totally geek out over this if I’m not careful, so I’ll try not to do that. It is just fascinating to me.

Every morning I try to spend a few minutes out in the garden before it gets too hot. This Kansas City heat and humidity are just nuts, and every time I’m out there thinning or pruning some stems or plucking out a weed or watering, I’m thinking of a specific situation in my life and they are so similar on how to prevent problems as well as solving them and getting the best harvest. When I’m out there in the mornings, that is my quiet time and I just love thinking through life and God’s goodness.

God is just so interesting in how he sets things up and is regularly referencing plants, gardening, and harvest in the Bible. Think of the fruits of the Spirit, some of the parables, I could go on and on. It’s all over the Bible. So you know, here at the Grace-filled Homestead it is a part of our mission to not only build faith and family on the farm but to point and encourage others in God’s simple truths and joy. He tells these stories in the parables in the Bible and gives these examples, so it will make sense to us and it will point us to his simple truths. We always want to make things more complicated and usually God has lined out a few simple concepts for us to have a great harvest in our garden and in our everyday lives.

 

Unearthing God’s Simple Truth’s

Let’s unearth some of these parallels so we can experience God’s simple truths, blessings, and joy in our lives, just like we can in our garden. We are going to talk about three parallels between gardening and faith. There are more than three, but we will discuss just three for today. I’ll be honest, numbers one and three are pretty basic and you’ve probably thought about them before. But number two is epic for me and not something I’ve been doing very well at. It’s harder and it’s a new gardening concept for me in the last couple of years, so I’m going to spend the majority of our time today chatting about it.

Number two is the difference between having a mediocre garden versus a huge bounty, and I believe that applies in life as well. All that to say, stick around to number two. It’s the real reason I wanted to share with you today.

Starting Seeds of Faith

Parallel one is starting seeds of faith. Obviously, we all know and understand the parallels of planting seeds now for a future harvest and how that relates to real life as well. This concept makes sense to us not only in our gardens, as we are planting in the spring for a later fall harvest, but in our finances, with saving now for something in the future. And the same goes for fitness and working out. You’ll gain strength and results over time. You’re doing something hard right now and you’re going to get the results of it later. This is a very easy concept to get.

In Matthew 13:31-32, it says “He told them another parable. The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”

Picture this: you’ve got a handful of tiny seeds in your hand. You dig a little hole in the soil to plant them. It is an action of faith. You believe that these small, tiny seeds that look nothing like a real plant have the potential to sprout, grow, and bear fruit. And in the same way, faith starts with a small seed of belief and action. You can’t just think about planting a seed. You have to actually walk outside into the humidity, get dirty in that soil, and plant the seed. It’s active. Our faith has to be active to actually grow and get a stronger relationship with God. Practically, what that looks like is devoting some time to reading your Bible, praying, and serving others. It’s taking action to get that started.

 

Cultivating Your Garden and Your Life

The second parallel in gardening and your faith life is cultivating. Hang with me, because this is where the epic changes happen in your garden and in your life, and I have not excelled in this area in my life like I’ve wanted to. A few years ago, we switched gardening methods on our property from long spread-out rows in the ground to raised beds that are packed in tight. It’s called the intensive method and I am so so dialed in when it comes to my garden beds with this one, but when I try to parallel it with my life, it’s been an epic fail, and I’m just now understanding and making those changes.

My garden soil is rich black dirt with no weeds, and it is as cultivated as it gets. It’s good, it’s bearing fruit and making a difference, but not at the level it could. I’ve been over here working hard and not smart, and we could talk for hours on this one parallel. I value your time, so to keep it streamlined. I will explain to you just one of my flower beds that is beyond successful and the methods that worked. These methods will work not only in the garden beds but in life as well. I’m trying to translate those over into my life.

As mentioned, this method is called intensive gardening and I believe that it became a thing in Paris during World War II, when they were struggling for food and families were packing lots of produce plants into one tiny little bed, the ultimate companion planting, right? So we’ve adopted this historical gardening method and it’s packed in tight. We’re on a smaller farm, so it works out great. Our fruit and vegetable beds are the same, but let me walk you through one of our flower beds in this method.

This zinnia bed, which is the easiest flower you will ever grow and great for beginners, and that is why I’m using it as an example because everyone should have zinnias they’re so easy and fun. Our bed is a cedar 4 x 8 raised bed and it’s low to the ground, only one board high, and it has a hard “no” for a boundary that keeps the goodness in and the bad things out.

Before planting, the soil was as good as it gets, with that deep black dirt filled with layers of rich compost. When we planted in the spring, these seeds were packed in so tight as they started to grow there wasn’t an inch of room for a weed. If you remember only one thing from reading this, I want it to be this: Nature will cover your soil with something if it’s bare, so put something good there instead of allowing the weeds to pop up. Just like in life, fill your bare spots with God’s goodness, so there is no room for weeds and no need to have that painful pulling out later.

I love this verse that so clearly states how worries and other desires can cause those weeds to take over. It’s Mark 4:18 – 19, “Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word, but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful”.

I was just joking with two of my adult kiddos about how we are going to put together a quote book of all the silly sayings their dad uses. They’re pretty funny and mostly true. One that he says often that can be a bit irritating at the time when something’s gone wrong is “being unpredictable is preventable”. This parallel concept in gardening and faith is preventing the weeds from creeping in and taking over. The same can be said for squash bugs, just like weeds, it’s easier to prevent them than to get rid of them once they’ve taken over. We need to fill our lives so full of the goodness of God that there is hardly any space for the bad stuff to creep in. Like I said, I’m still working on this one. Where I have struggled in this area is patting myself on the back for the list of bad things that I don’t do.

So many times in our religion we think of it as a yes, we can do these things and we don’t do these things, and that is so wrong. It’s all about the relationship with God. So it’s not the bad things that I don’t do, but I’m not packing in enough of the goodness to fill in the space. Instead of just not watching a trashy Netflix series, fill that time and space intentionally with something encouraging, good, and edifying. It’s more work to research the movies and the books and the music and the places that honor God, but it’s so worth it if you put some energy up front into filling up that space with goodness. I feel like it’s gotten a bit worse lately and maybe it’s just the people I know personally, but since COVID it seems like we are all randomly self-numbing, and I’m not talking with the big stuff like drugs or whatever, but we’re self-numbing with the scrolling of the social media and the binging on shows, etc. It just has increased and there is less intention on how we spend our time and I’ve been guilty of this.

Creating Boundaries and Filling in Space

So, all that to say, I believe in intensive gardening, where you have an outside boundary like a raised bed, layers of good soil and compost and you pack in your companion plants so tight there is no room for any weeds at all. This gardening method saves you time when weeding. It keeps the lower layers of soil moist because they’re covered and you get that huge harvest. I believe it’s the same with our phases of life. Intentionally layering on the good things that we spend our time on will produce a stronger relationship with God and others. For example, worship music as the backdrop in your home can make a difference.

Fill the space in your mind with God’s goodness and who we are following online. That is a big one. I know I need to weed out my list again. I do that occasionally, but not as often as I should. The empty spaces in time in your life will get filled, but we get to decide if that is with the weeds or with the produce and blooms. So we need to fill that space well.

Season and Cycles

Number three is seasons. This third parallel between gardening and faith is talked about a lot. As you know, gardens go through cycles of growth, dormancy, and rebirth. Similarly, our faith journeys have their own seasons. Sometimes it’s a season of abundance and vitality, where our faith feels strong and vibrant. Other times it’s a season of introspection, and reflection, like those dormant, cold, chilly months.

These quieter seasons allow us to dive deeper into our spiritual core with God and find strength in that stillness. Patience is the name of the game when it comes to gardening and faith. You all know that you plant those seeds in one season and then you sit there and wait, sometimes two seasons further before you get to harvest it. You watch as plants grow slowly over time, but they do grow.

Faith is so similar to this. It’s a journey of growth that unfolds gradually. We learn to trust the process, even when it feels like nothing is happening. Both gardening and faith teach us the importance of resilience and the understanding that setbacks can actually be God using them for His and our own good.

If your life and garden are anything like mine, sometimes you may be in two different seasons at the same time. I never really thought that this was possible until the last few years. While I may have a garden bed full of trellis tomato tunnels loaded with produce, the bed next to it may be barren and wiped out due to squash bugs that didn’t get handled early enough. The bed is completely empty of produce and is getting covered with compost to start a fall crop. Four feet from each other I have total abundance that is literally over my head with tomatoes hanging down from the sky and in the very next bed, a completely empty wasteland of barren ground. The same thing goes for life.

You may see huge amounts of success and blessings in one area and complete devastation and struggle in another area in your life. Two things can be true at the same time. Identifying and understanding the seasons in your life that are in different areas can help you know your response. In my experience, in my faith life, if things are going south, it’s time to take action and press into God as early as possible. I don’t know about you, but I want to be like that person mentioned in Psalm 1. Psalm 1:3 says “That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever they do, prospers.”

Gardening and faith remind us to embrace the beauty of the present moment and express gratitude to God for the wonders that surround us. Yes, gardening and faith have more in common than meets the eye. I’d love to leave you with this bit of encouragement from Isaiah, Isaiah 58.11, “The Lord will guide you always. He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”

Filling your soul with God’s word will give you a lasting and eternal harvest. Don’t miss out on the most popular book in history. It will touch your soul. If you want to dig deeper into your faith we have an easy one-year bible reading plan that works, even if you are busy.