Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: Gardening

Beans and Blueberries 
A devotional by Sharon Musgrove

“From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” 
–Ephesians 4:16 (NIV)

Gardening is an activity that God has used to teach me about His kingdom. Participation in cultivating life has resulted in a consistent opening of my eyes to God's nurturing love. I share my garden stories for building up God’s family in that love.

I planted pole beans in the garden bed that lies between the rows of blueberries. The blueberries have been in the ground for longer than I have been the owner of the property, though I understand they've been there for decades. They are well established in that soil and have weathered much over the years. They are hearty, reliable, and sure.

The pole beans began from seed this spring. The seedlings went into the soil in May. They were newcomers to the garden.

When I was a kid, my grandfather planted pole beans and because of those memories, they have been a favorite of mine. I like eating beans, but I love the fun in harvesting them! I feel like a kid again. It's like a game of hide and seek looking behind broad leaves and under a self-made canopy for the produce that looks so much like the vine it came from. If it weren't for those memories of picking beans as a child, I would not have known how prolific pole beans grow.

Given good soil, watering and plenty of sunshine, pole beans grow rapidly. Long tendrils stretch, reaching up and out, unable to support themselves. They truly are reaching out for support. This year, they found support in the nearest blueberry bush.

Rather than building extra supports, I decided to let what was happening between the two plants play out, knowing that the beans would not last but one season, leaving the blueberry bush to continue.

What has happened between the two has been a joy to observe. The rapid growth of the beans found security in the support of the blueberry’s hearty stalks. The beans reached out and curled dainty fingers around thick branches. The large leaves of the beans brought extra shade to the old blueberry in a summer’s heat. Berries developed more slowly in their shade, becoming large, juicy and sweeter than their full-sun neighbors.

It looked like a jungle mess of intertwined bodies playing a savage game of Twister. However, when you duck under the exterior to see what's happening on the inside, an enchanting secret garden of beans and blueberries grow together!

God’s Spirit touches me there, every time I visit. The church family, the body of Christ, is like this garden. There are some, like me, who have been in the same soil for decades, weathering seasons of ice and drought. There are others, in our congregation, who are young and growing quickly, needing support of the mature. Some of these young “pole beans” have stretched out in missionary service to other countries…that's a long arm!

Rapid growth periods require support, no matter what the variety. Being stretched beyond capacity means you are healthy and potential for fruitfulness is increased. This is not weakness.

The added weight from the young plants strengthens the older “tried and true.” It’s a gift of greater purpose and adds new meaning to aging lives. It is not a burden to be resented. To partner together is a blessing that is greater than the success of the individual. The fruit is sweeter!

From the outside it looks messy. Could intertwined and messy be good and tidy independence deception?

Ephesians 4:16 points out that life begins with Christ…that ligaments are there for the purpose of support…and the body's work is building itself up. In Christ, with love, let’s build each other up!

Let’s Pray: Heavenly Father, thank you for the lesson of the beans and the blueberries! May we, Your church, work unified. Let us be at peace in our need, reaching out for support as we grow spiritually. May we also be generous in spirit as we bear the weight of those who require support.

Author Bio:
Sharon Musgrove is a self-proclaimed sociologist. The opportunities opened to her, over the years, have led her on a fascinating journey observing human behavior.

She has a diverse background in business, fitness and health industries. This background led her to a unique position writing curriculum and teaching for two private, Christ-based, residential recovery programs. Both recovery programs served women primarily from the homeless community.

Sharon has traveled multiple times to Kenya, serving on medical teams and teaching in the rural Maasai communities. She's been privileged to participate in Leadership camps for maturing young women. These annual camps have a mission of encouraging and empowering the impoverished, underprivileged, and often abused young Maasai girls.

Easily identifying personally with the brokenness of the women she's served, Sharon now sees all people as needing more encouragement regardless of cultural or socioeconomic status. Within these ministries, Sharon has witnessed the transformative power of loving words spoken to the broken-hearted. Sharing God’s love and witnessing its transformative power has become her passion.

In her leisure time, Sharon enjoys her garden, health food, travel and a good story. She and her husband, Jeff, make their home in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. They have two grown children. Currently, Sharon is writing her first Christian historical fiction novel utilizing her study, experience, and understanding of self-destructive behaviors.

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