When it comes to gardening, I am most definitely my father's daughter! We both struggle to keep anything alive for an extended period of time - even cacti (which apparently need almost no care), have managed to die when entrusted to Dad. Mum, on the other-hand has green-fingers - plants thrive in her care. They recently moved house and you'd think from the gardens that mum has started, that they'd been living there for years!
By some miracle I did have one short, yet successful, episode of vegetable gardening a number of years back which taught me this - gardens that flourish don't just require weeding, they require some good stuff be deposited in as well. They need sunlight, water and the right nutrients - but just how much of the good stuff is required will depend on the particular variety of plants. Just like us, plants are unique and a one size fits all approach will not yield a great harvest.
There's a well known and often quoted Scripture tucked away in Proverbs:
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
If you are anything like me, then the word guard might have made you think of all the things that you need to keep out of your heart, that you need to protect it from; of the things that need to be weeded out. And this is part of guarding our hearts - but it is only one part.
I like the way that the King James puts this verse - Keep thy heart with all diligence... Because while the word that the NIV translates as guard, does have the connotation of guarding and protecting, it was also used in relation to keeping or tending a vineyard. And just like keeping a vineyard or garden requires not only weeding, but also ensuring that the plants have the 'good stuff' - so it is with our hearts. In other words, it's not just about what we take out, but also what we put in.
Just like each plant needs tailored care to thrive, so do we. What tends my heart may not tend yours. My heart needs to take walks on the beach; to crank up my worship music; to take time to journal and light candles; to read my book in front of the fire and spend time with close friends - especially over good food! What does your heart need?
Such moments are not luxuries - no, I have discovered that they are necessities. We cannot afford to neglect the health of our hearts, we must keep them with all diligence because they are where life flows from. Stasi Eldredge sums it up beautifully when she says that God asks us to do this above all else because...
...God knows that our heart is core to who we are. It is the source of all our creativity, our courage, and our convictions. It is the fountain-head of our faith, our hope, and of course, our love. This “well-spring of life” within us is the very essence of our existence, the center of our being.
I know for me personally, that when I continually feel that I am not enough; when everything just feels so hard, that this can be a signal that I have not only abandoned rest, I have stopped guarding, stopped tending to the specific needs of my heart. Learning what blesses my heart sustains me and brings strength and joy to my journey. It's a huge part of learning to live with margin and of allowing His life to flow in me and through me.
So let's be deliberate this week about tending to our hearts; to paying attention to the welfare of our innermost being, for from there flows the wellspring of life (The Passion Translation).
Live today with purpose,
One of my favourite pass-times as a kid was writing. I used to make my own books and write poetry on our old type-writer. Thankfully both my writing and technology have come a long way!
It is my prayer that these posts from the blogging team encourage you to embrace the season that you are in and to live it with purpose for God's glory.
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