Lessons from the garden


Charlotte Curran

CFC East

I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 1 Corinthians 3:6

Our first marital home was… well let’s just call it ‘a doer-upper’. No doubt lovely in its day, it had been uninhabited for a few years and was now rough around every conceivable edge. We eagerly began work on the interior with what little money and skill we had at the time, but the outside remained untouched. This was a rather unfortunate reality for our neighbours, all retired with pristine gardens. We lived in a row full of Monty Dons and we couldn’t tell a dandelion from a birch tree. Eventually, one of our long-suffering neighbours (much to her adult daughter’s dismay) offered us the telephone number of a local gardener.

Fast forward two decades and a house move and suddenly, seemingly overnight, the dormant gardener inside me awoke. A verifiable miracle, I became avidly interested in growing things. I still lacked skill but I was obsessed, reading everything I could get my hands on, adding Gardeners World to my playlist and seriously considering a small tattoo of Monty on my ankle. As I conversed at length with God in the garden, I learned valuable lessons about how he makes things grow. The world is, after all, his creation, and I began to witness that many spiritual truths I had discovered in scripture were mimicked, reflected, woven deeply into the fabric of how the created world works. 

But perhaps chief among them was this – every specific seed has its own prerequisites for growth.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that this week. At the risk of sounding substantially holier than I am, I’ve been getting up at 6am every morning for a prolonged tete-a-tete with God. I am not exaggerating the fact when I say this is the opposite of my character and normal rhythm. I am the person who can get ready in 3 minutes flat if it means another half hour in bed. But a week ago I felt one of those strange whispers of the Spirit we hear from time to time, “Come meet me at 6am for seven days.” My second thought was, “Yes of course I will.” My first was, “That means no lie in on Saturday. I might die.” (I have a penchant for the dramatic.)

But despite myself, I managed to crawl out of bed for all but one of those days. I must confess I was an hour and a half late one morning. I came to the end of that week this very morning and I asked God, “Why did it have to be seven days in a row?” Once more I felt him draw me to the garden. 

I don’t know if you know much about seeds, or if you too have Monty Don tattooed on your left ankle, but just in case you don’t, let me teach you a little. Seeds lie dormant, tiny pockets of potential life, until the right conditions emerge. For many seeds this involves soil, water and essentially the right temperature. Even if a seed is planted in soil and has adequate moisture, if it doesn’t experience the right temperature consistently for a required time period, it will not germinate. 

I realised God was creating a seven day bio-dome around me last week. This call to private conversation early in the morning consistently over a specific period of time, was in fact an invitation to a spiritual atmosphere, a temperature, sustained long enough to germinate some dormant seeds lying inside me. 

I don’t doubt, since you are here reading an article on prayer, that you have beautiful growth in your life because of your journey with Jesus. But what if there are still dormant seeds inside you, your family, your local church expression, the 24-7 prayer network, that await an awakening only accessible by a new level of consistency in prayer? That thought captivates me. 

I am not suggesting that God is asking you to forgo some sleep for seven days, that was his instruction to me. But where is God calling you into a new consistent commitment in prayer, a space where the spiritual temperature of your life can be raised then sustained for long enough for dormant seeds to break forth? 

Perhaps God is calling his Church to carry the seed-bed of our lives into the biodome of his presence so that long-dormant seeds might grow.

…And maybe even Monty Don will be impressed with the outcome. 

Practice – Take some time to reflect on this question – ‘where is God calling you into a new consistent commitment in prayer, a space where the spiritual temperature of your life can be raised then sustained for long enough for dormant seeds to break forth?’ – What is God’s invitation to you over the coming summer months?

Pause and listen to see what the Holy Spirit might be saying to you – what rhythms are you being invited into? 

While you take time to pray, consider –  the dormant seeds inside you – that God wants to water and grow as you pray.

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