Our new backyard needs some work. In a neighborhood brimming with beautifully landscaped yards and a homeowner’s association to keep it that way, our yard can’t be considered an eyesore exactly (unless you count the three foot long patch of rotting mushrooms that first sprouted several days ago after the incessant rain we’ve had), and so the HOA can’t really call us on it, but we’re nowhere near winning the yard of the month award.
The grass is patchy (partly because of the armadillos coming by for a night-time snack of tasty grubs–we saw one the other night in one of our neighbors’ yard, and it didn’t even bother to walk away when we came near; it was too busy chowing down). The main problem, though, is the lack of anything to beautify it–no flower beds in the back at all. We do have a few scraggly rose bushes crammed in like afterthoughts next to some boxy shrubs in the front yard and some bushes that look like they may bloom someday, but in the back there’s nothing but patchy grass, an old stump, three oak trees, and a few mini pumpkins scattered around to mark and protect my kids’ sprouting bean plants from dried pinto beans that fell and took root during Little E’s birthday party. They’ll find out soon enough that bean plants won’t last through the winter, but hey, it’s a side science experiment, right?
I’ve been wanting to make notes about when different parts of the yard get sun so I can start planning a flower garden for the spring, but the sun hasn’t been out in the past three weeks long enough for me to do that. I long to bring beauty to our plain yard.
I think God longs to bring beauty into our lives, as well.
As I’ve worked in my garden in the past (which didn’t happen very often, by the way), and as I’ve uprooted weeds to make room for the bright flowers I wanted, I always thought of the metaphor of weeding sin out of my life to make way for the good. I thought of how the work is hard but necessary. It’s also continual work. The weeds keep coming back, especially when I don’t do a good enough job uprooting them completely. This work needs to be done in my back yard, and it always needs to be done in my heart.
However, as I was reading Little House in the Big Woods to my kids a few weeks ago, a new thought came in my mind. In the book, the father remarks that he has to keep on working, or the woods would take his cleared place over again. He considers this to be a bad thing, just as I considered the weeds to be bad. But I also thought as I read the book about how beautiful the woods are and how wonderful it is that God made a way for forests to reproduce themselves when they get damaged.
I realized the metaphor could be flipped on its head. Although we do have work to do in the gardens of our hearts, God, in His grace, causes beauty to grow in places where our human touch (or lack of touch in the case of my yard) has caused an area to be ugly. He instructs the woods to take over and beautify the ugliness.
Once again, it’s a partnership between us and God. We are to work to pull out the weeds in our lives, and He causes the beautiful plants and flowers to flourish. Then He brings in ones we haven’t planned to beautify our lives in ways we hadn’t imagined. As it always is, this grace is undeserved, no matter how hard we toil in our gardens.
This beauty He brings might look like an unexpected truly funny joke coming out of my son’s lips, causing me to laugh until tears stream down when I had wanted to cry for other reasons just moments ago. Maybe it’s my daughter handling her emotions in such a mature way that I stop in amazement knowing Someone beyond me has been working on her heart. Maybe it’s just a hug from my husband.
At any rate, when I see a bit of His physical beauty stealing into my homely yard…
…I hope I will remember to stop and thank Him for His grace and the beautiful gifts He gives me in my life every day.
“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” Romans 1:20