by guest author Neil Bringe
What should we do as we dwell in a spiritual Babylon?
God’s plan in the past likely is the same for today: stay where God placed you, build homes, plant gardens and eat their produce, grow your family, and pray for the welfare of our community (see Jeremiah 29:4–7). This is a way of life that is rich in benefits as one shares what he is learning with his children and children’s children. The time spent in learning from this life is a mix of science, theology, social studies, entomology, plant pathology, botany, horticulture, chemistry, math, and economics.
Here are some things I learned:
- A healthy garden is more than a row of vegetables in the dirt.
- A covering over the dirt such as mulch, straw, or wood chips keeps the soil from hardening on the surface, retains moisture, provides nutrients, and limits weeds.
- Rocks and tubes of water help retain heat during cool nights while also covering the dirt.
- Trees, buildings, and row-cover hoop houses provide protection from wind, hail, and frost.
Flowering plants attract pollinating insects and can deter pests.
- God’s creation of interdependent plants, insects, bacteria, fungi, worms, animals, soil, water, and sunshine teach us the divine nature and eternal power of God and help us to understand truths of His Word.
- A tiny seed under the right conditions sprouts and grows to produce an eight-pound rutabaga or a brilliant array of colorful Swiss chard plants that keep producing as portions are harvested. Apart from God the Creator, this is impossible. Even more incredible is the miracle of our transformation to a child of God by His grace, through faith in Jesus. By knowing God’s nature and power through His creation, the Holy Spirit helps us to know that He is able to do all things.
- The chemicals of vegetables such as lycopene, lutein, lignans and inulin, starches, fibers, proteins, fats, and minerals not only benefit the plants, but also work in us to provide satisfaction and health (gut, heart, brain, eyes, skin, organs etc.). We are still only beginning to understand how it all works — complementary tastes and textures, digestion, absorption, specific receptors binding, metabolism, storage, recycling, and elimination. God is infinite in His wisdom.
- The more we learn about our place, the better stewards we become, enabling ecosystems of our area to thrive. Some of our most productive garden sites reseed themselves or regrow as perennials and produce a rich abundance.
- When we sow sparingly we reap sparingly (Corinthians 9:6 – 7).
- Pruning fruitful branches produces more fruit (John 15:1 – 2).
- Just as a healthy plant progresses and increases, so it is also normal that we progress (in our knowledge of God) and increase (in faith and love) (from Holiness by J.C. Ryle).
- When we work the garden and keep it according to God’s instructions (Genesis 2:15), we are rewarded with a bountiful harvest, improved character (patience, perseverance, faith, love for God and others we serve), and health. The reason for working and keeping the garden is because God gave it to us to sustain us (Genesis 1:29), enabling us to use our gifts with zeal for His glory.
- The regular attention to the garden helps us to be physically active, maintain muscle strength, and breathe fresh air. It’s also a blessing to be exposed to vitamin D-producing sunshine and acquire healthful bacteria for gut integrity and function.
- A greater consumption of greens, peas, asparagus, onions, beets, carrots, berries, apples, plums etc. provide health to our families and community. It is not likely that our family would seek beets and learn how to enjoy them in meals if they were not so well suited to grow in our garden. It turns out that beets and arugula from our garden are rich in nitrates, which ultimately help us to utilize oxygen more effectively – perfect for living at our high elevation of 6812 feet.
Praise God for His plan for us to plant gardens and eat their produce. It helps us to experience joy in living as we serve in our community and gratefully acknowledge God in worship.