Thursday, April 15, 2010

Lessons from Spring

This weekend my husband and children planted our garden. When you look at it, there really isn't much to see -- some mounds of reddish-brown dirt with seeds hidden underneath, and some little tomato and pepper seedlings.  Yet, in due season, we are hoping to harvest a crop of nutritious and delicious veggies to feed our family.

This reminds me of an article which I wrote many years ago, back when my children were just young seedlings themselves.  This article was published in the Spring 1997 issue of  An Encouraging Word magazine, and is a timely reminder today.

The Springtime of Homeschooling
"To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven."  -- Ecclesiastes 3:1

The arrival of Spring beckons us outdoors where we are eager to enjoy the earth's rebirth after a long, dreary winter spent inside.  We often find our hearts full of dreams, our heads occupied with plans, and our hands busy in the soil, planting seeds which we hope will bear fruit.

It's much the same when our children are young.  Our hearts overflow with dreams for them; our heads swim with the plans we hope to accomplish; and our hands are constantly busy with the daily "dirty work."  This is especially true when we find ourselves homeschooling.

Some activities are an inherent part of spring.  Spring is a time for preparing the soil, for planting seeds, for providing a healthy environment, for protecting tender seedlings, for pruning young plants, for praying for the harvest, and above all, for persevering.  We are wise to discern that the nurturing of our children consists of these same activities.

Even before the first hint of spring, we should be preparing the soil of our children's hearts.  Ideally, our children are the "godly seeds" that come from generations of servants of  the Lord.  But, we must not despair if our children do not have this rich heritage.  We must begin where we are by enriching the soil of their hearts with the lives and teachings of godly men and women.  We must saturate their hearts with the Word of God and with prayer.  And we must seek to make their hearts soft and yielded, not hard and rebellious.  (Review the parable of the soils in Matthew 13.)  Biblical discipline is crucial.  A root of bitterness can spring up in their hearts if we are either too harsh or too indulgent.  (See Ephesians 6:4 and Hebrews 12:11.)

Spring is also the time when we plant the seeds we hope will bear fruit in our children's lives.  We must plant the right seeds at the right times and we must be certain the seeds we plant are truly the seeds we want to take root and grow.  Galations 6:7-8 says, "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man sows, this he will also reap.  For the one who sows to his own flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal life."  Furthermore, we must be aware that the Enemy is planting seeds of his own in our children's lives.  (See Matthew 13:24-26.)

Even the best seeds, properly planted, will not grow without proper sunlight and water; therefore, we must be sure to provide the right growing conditions.  As homeschoolers, we tend to dwell on this part of spring.  Believing we can provide the best environment for our young seedlings, we are eager to extol the virtues of the home and liken it to a greenhouse for young plants.  But, are we always careful to keep pests from infiltrating our greenhouses??  We need to examine the things we allow into our homes.  We also need to monitor the atmospheres of our homes -- are they characterized by love, acceptance, and encouragement or by harshness, criticism, and contention?  Providing the right environment is crucial to the growth of our seedlings.

Spring also involves protecting our seedlings from the diseases, pests, and harsh conditions that are prevalent outside our greenhouses.  Our tender plants will be destroyed if we are not careful to protect them.  We must be vigilant.  Pests can sneak in undetected and destroy our precious plants before we realize what is happening.

Once our seeds begin to grow, we may want to sit back and enjoy the sweet pleasures of spring, but the hardest work lies ahead.  We must busy ourselves with pruning and weeding.  This requires hard work and diligence.  Weeds can appear anywhere and seem to shoot up overnight.  We must pull the weeds before they become firmly rooted or they will stifle the growth of our young plants.  We must also prune our plants regularly so they will bear more fruit (John 15:2).  We must cut away growth that is undesirable, continually shaping and training our young plants to grow in the right directions.  (This is the essence of Proverbs 22:6.)

The entire growing season must be spent in prayer.  We need to be in constant communication with the Master Gardener, praying that we will plant the proper seeds at the right times and that they will grow, praying that we will provide exactly the right environment and will protect the seedlings sufficiently without smothering them, praying for diligence as we pull weeds, and praying for wisdom and discernment as we prune and direct the growth of our plants.

And finally, spring involves perseverance.  We tend to look at the first shoots and cry out in despair, "There's no fruit!  I've failed!  I'm a terrible gardener!"  But we must remember -- in the Spring the harvest is still a long way off. l We can not look for the harvest before its season! We must apply ourselves diligently to the task at hand, trusting the Lord of the harvest to produce fruit in due season.  Galations 6:9 says, "And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary."


AntfarmMom said...

Thank you! That just reinforces a decision we have to make here lately. Thank you for sharing.

mommyx12 said...

Great thoughts. So true and full of wisdom.

We have another couple weeks before we can plant. The weather isn't quite ready yet. But it doesn't keep us from being outdoors.

Thanks for sharing this. Have a great week.

Rebecca's Refining said...

Great article! I just read that great book today, and then what a nice follow up in reading your post! :)

There are so many great spiritual applications with gardens.

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