One of my favorite topics to write about is sanctification and the role of Jesus in our growth. Most can relate with being discouraged in times of pain and apparent stagnation in our lives as believers.
I like to think of the Christian walk as being a plant in a garden. It begins with a seed that is watered and takes root in the ground. As the plant begins to grow, it reaches for the sunlight and expands its territory. However, with time and storms and traffic it can become misshapen and burdened leading to decay.
This is where tending comes into action.
Salvation is often understood as a one-time occurrence at the beginning of the life of a believer. Consider that salvation is not only a one-time event but an ongoing process between the plant (us) and the Gardener (God).
The Gardener, at times, will water and expose the plant to sunlight. These can be compared to moments in our lives of revelation, of gifts, and victories of every kind. These moments are beautiful and are great for growth. However, too much water drowns a plant and too much sun burns its leaves.
It's necessary for the Gardener to trim the leaves or reduce the amount of water the plant absorbs. Remember, the purpose of tending is not that the plant feels good but that becomes all that the Gardener wants for it. In our case, the dream God has for us is to be like his son, Jesus, in heart and action.
During our lives, Jesus reveals parts of us that are broken. Jesus, as the sinless Son of God, was the only person to ever be perfect. Period. When He sees something in us that is contrary to his character, it is his job and joy to free us from those things just like a gardener who removes excess leaves and parasites that damage the plant. This trimming can be painful and confusing, but hindsight is 20/20. It's fascinating to look back on trials and pain and realize that God was teaching and revealing grace to us. The way he chooses is through the trials that TESTED our faith and PURIFIED our souls.
Tending is a matter of the heart.
God creates in our hearts a greater love and desire for him, which moves us to act. The very definition of what it means to be human is to be like God (in his image) and to know God. Not only is it foolish for the plant to attempt to trim its own leaves or force growth, it is actually not possible.
- Salvation is a process, not an event.
- We are in CONSTANT need of growth and direction. This burden is not ours but belongs to Jesus. We get to participate in our growth.
- The purpose of all tending, through the work of the Holy Spirit in us, through us, and around us, is to make us more like Jesus in heart and action.
He's not finished with you.
Take heart, He who began a good work in you will see it until completion (see Philippians 1:6) Continue to trust, believe and profess that Jesus authored your salvation and each step is one closer to being perfected on the day Jesus comes to bring you home.