Today the GodPlantedAGarden blog shares a guest post…
People seek shortcuts. Get rich fast. Lose weight quickly. Improve relationships in days. Own it now with easy financing. Self-help gurus offer titles such as “Six Steps to XYZ” and promise results for the price of the book or the monthly subscription to the training materials. There is always that guy who uses the shoulder shortcut to bypass the other 500 cars jammed in the evening commute. By nature humans wrestle with impatience possibly due to the awareness that life is fleeting and time wasted is gone forever. Shortcuts seem to make sense.
I got hooked by one of those garden makeover shows where the experts descend on a jungle of neglect and in a matter of days create a masterpiece of botanical wonder. The homeowner selected for the extravagant bounty receives a shortcut indeed. Money for the project seems unlimited, and vendors with the materials and expertise for the hardscaping aspects of the plan line up along the street to step in and make their contribution. No waiting. Simply instant beauty.
The results are stunning but I wonder how the oasis might appear in one year or five years. As a gardener I know the time investment I make trimming and weeding and caring for the plants. Certainly the instant garden looks impressive, but does the speedy makeover change the habits of the garden owner? Any garden left to itself returns quickly to a jungle of neglect. I would love to see a follow-up show where the garden is revisited for a frank discussion of the upkeep pitfalls and extra expenses (in time and money!) introduced by the glittering design.
The Bible gives examples of men and women who sought and took shortcuts.
Consider Abram and Sarai (later Abraham and Sarah) as they waited for the child God had promised to them. The clock was ticking and the couple, already up in years, felt time slipping away. Sarai proposed a solution. Abram would take the housemaid, Hagar, as his wife and father a child through her. In the custom of the day the child would be considered as Sarai’s. Abram listened to the voice of his wife as opposed to the voice of God who had promised a child. The shortcut led to disharmony in the home and the origin of two lines of people who remain at war today.
Abraham’s descendent, Jacob, was the younger of twin brothers. Before the twin’s birth God announced that Esau, the older, would serve Jacob. Jacob, whose name means “heel catcher” or “supplanter,” entered the world with a grip on his brother’s heel. Later Jacob purchased Esau’s birthright for a bowl of stew and eventually stole the blessing reserved for Esau. Shortcuts and the consequences of choosing them brought much turmoil to Jacob’s life.
What about Moses, the adopted Hebrew son of an Egyptian princess? Moses perhaps understood his destiny to deliver God’s people, the Israelites, from Egyptian oppression. At age forty he happened across an Egyptian beating a Hebrew and defended the weaker man. Moses reasoned that deliverance might as well start at that moment. He killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. The shortcut led to forty years on the run as a hunted fugitive.
Shortcuts seem to be the best option but often leave us wallowing in the aftermath of the choice.
Consider the best example, Jesus Christ. Matthew records in his Gospel (chapter 4) an intense time of testing when Satan approached Jesus with options, all shortcuts. In option three Satan promised to give Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and their glory if only the Savior would bow the knee and worship Satan. Those are already promised to Jesus by his Father, and as a trusting and obedient Son he refused Satan’s offer. Jesus declined the shortcut and opted to wait for God’s timing.
God’s process for building strong believers involves no shortcuts. He does not apply a heavenly microwave for thirty seconds, wait for the ding, and marvel as another seasoned believer pops forth from the oven. God works through experiences designed and organized over an individual’s lifetime in a process He alone controls. The Apostle Paul describes the steps.
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love.
Romans 5:3-5 NLT
Some shortcuts work in the garden. For example with enough money it is possible to buy a mature tree and have it installed in the perfect spot. The tree will require attention and care, support ropes and stakes, and certainly a great deal of water until the roots find their way into the surrounding soil. The tree’s vulnerability to the forces of the wind will remain high until the roots are fully developed and deployed.
Or the gardener can skip the shortcut and plant a seedling. That gives the blessing of learning and growing along with the tree. I’m considering a persimmon tree for my landscape, and started the process with a few seeds in the fall of 2018. Interested readers can find the details at The Persimmon Tree.
The garden has so much to teach.