Location: My Wildflower Garden
"...lean not on your own understanding..." (Proverbs 3:5)
I planted a wildflower garden on the side of my house. I thought there would be enough light, but the sideways growth of my plants tells me differently! They keep leaning towards the light. And it made me think about where I lean.
Sometimes (ok, *many times*…) I lean toward finding significance. If I can work for so-and-so, if I can live in “that” city, if I can impress them with “that” job, I’ll find my worth.
Sometimes (ok, again, you got me, *many times*) I lean towards control and safety. If I can get that salary, live in that neighborhood, manipulate that outcome, I’ll be safe.
But isn’t leaning so much work?
What if we didn’t have to lean anymore?
What if our significance was found in just being who God made us to be? What if our safety was more about trust and acceptance rather than worry and anticipation? What if God has given us everything we need, right now? What if the only place we leaned was on “the everlasting arms?” (Now that’s gonna be in your head all week)
Gracious God, help me to lean only towards you. Amen.
Location: My Vegetable Garden
“Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops;” (Proverbs 3:9, NIV)
For the past couple years my husband and I have planted a vegetable garden on the side of our house. We love having fresh salsa or a crisp tomato cucumber salad composed of our freshly grown harvest.
Yesterday, I went to our vegetable garden and noticed our first two tomatoes had ripened and were ready for the picking. I was excited to see the first fruits of the year and it immediately made me think of the places in the Bible that mention giving the first fruits to God. This got me reflecting on how my vegetable garden came to be in the first place.
This year, my husband Billy built us new garden beds to put on the side of the house after our old ones rotted. After we dug out the old wood and assembled the new beds, we went to Lowe’s to pick out our plants. When we got home, we dug into the ground to transplant the plants into our garden.
And over the past few months, we’ve weeded the garden when it looked overrun with weeds. We’ve watered the garden when it seemed dry and wilty. We’ve put a lot of work into nurturing our plants so they would grow and prosper.
But at the end of the day, no matter how much attention I give my plants, I can’t make the plants grow. I don’t control the axis of the earth, the amount of hours the sun shines, or the frequency of natural rainfall. I don’t place the worms in the soil or the bees that pollinate the fruit flowers or position the plant leaves to get sun. Those aspects are divinely orchestrated by the Creator of the Universe.
Sure, my role in my plants’ growth is important, yet it is partial. Significant, yet incomplete. I need the Creator to help me produce the fruit of my labor.
When Proverbs 3:9 says, “Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops;” (NIV) it reminds me that giving my first and finest resources back to God is a way of acknowledging “I didn’t do this all on my own” (1). It’s a way of laying down the falsehood that my efforts alone achieve an outcome and encourages me to joyfully submit to the gift of co-creation with God.
Though you may not yield many crops or have much wealth to speak of, what “first fruits” can you give back to God today?
Perhaps it’s as simple as a prayer of praise and thanksgiving immediately following received recognition. Or, perhaps it’s dedicating the very first moments of your day to spending time with God.
Whatever your “first fruits” may be, let’s recognize our reliance on our Creator and rejoice in our partnership of co-creating the Kingdom to come.
This Week’s Practice: Giving - What first and finest resource can you give to God this week?
(1) Raymond C. Van Leeuwen in The New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary discusses the first fruits mentioned in Proverbs as “the first produce of the harvest and symbolically the best” (775).
Van Leeuwen, Raymond C. “Proverbs” in The New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary Volume III. Edited by Leeander E. Keck et al. Abingdon Press: Nashville, 2015.
by Erica Smith
Nature noticer, contemplative wannabe, coffee drinker, wine taster, and novice painter.