The Bible holds a large amount of agriculture imagery and that is because God is a gardener at heart. He is always interacting on the complex Creation that He made and set in motion.
I am terrible at farming. If I had to live off the food grown by me I would have starved a long time ago. Over the years I have found my niche in a few ways and there are some other areas I would like to explore if I had the land and time. When I think of farming the image of rows of high yield low value corn might come to mind but that is not exactly what one would call gardening. God would be in the garden category. In my garden is mix of herbs and other interesting vegetables. My own garden is not large or elaborate but it was pretty to look at this year. I also had a nice harvest of garlic and have enjoyed the process of working with it.
Life is much the same way. We have seasons of growth and bloom and seasons of being dormant and hidden away. Paul highlights this aspect and nature in his letter to the Corinthians.
9 For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building. 1 Corinthians 3:9 ESV
First we are co laborers with God in this garden and second we are part of the garden itself. I will highlight an example of this but first I would like to establish the centrality of the garden to God’s design. God loves gardens in fact the very first place he created for Adam and Eve was a garden.
5 When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, 6 and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground— 7 then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. 8 And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. 9 And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 2:5-9 ESV
This garden was pleasant to look at and be in. This garden produced the fruit for people to eat. God created this wonderful place for Men and Women to take care of and enjoy. Most importantly this garden was a place for people fellowship with God. That history sadly is on hold until Christ returns to reestablish a new perfect garden.
7 Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. 8 You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. James 5:7-8 ESV
Jesus is the farmer tending this garden. He is working his field and he will take the fruit of that field and use it for the foundation of a newly created Eden one day in the future when the season is right. If you are called by him and established as part of his garden then know that you will see this perfect garden one day in the future. If however you are rebellious and unbending to his plans and his ways you will be uprooted and tossed in the fire. Forever cast away and not part of the future. God is at work and this time now the season we are in now is the season of grace and mercy. Accept the nurture of Christ and the hand of this gardener to be who he wants and created you to be. He is an amazingly skilled owner who will allow you to grow and flourish as you were intended from the beginning.
While we are part of the garden itself we are also co laborers with Christ. So how does that work? Part of the garden and also working the garden with him?
36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Matthew 9:36—37 ESV
We who are part of Christ who are yielding to him to live through us must go out and serve the community and to be compassion to others like Christ has been to us. In this way we are the garden and we work for the gardener. I have another hobby a little more involved than the herb and flower boxes. I also keep honey bees. They are part of the garden and they support the overall productivity of the garden. I keep them for the honey they produce but these workers also pollenate the flowers. Almond growers for example rely on truckloads of bee hives at the right opportunity to pollinate the flowers that will yield fruit later in the season. Without the bees the quantity of fruit produced would be significantly smaller.
God in his wisdom has chosen to use mankind to grow and care for the garden but we are not the gardener. It is humbling to recognize Christ as the Creator and Gardener and that we have his attention.
6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 ESV