I’ll be honest. I don’t like gardening. Ok, let me qualify that-I would enjoy planting some green beans to munch on, maybe some peas too if I’m really daring, but generally speaking, I don’t like gardening. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the beauty of other people’s gardens, and can appreciate the effort and creativity that goes into designing and maintaining a good garden. But I have no inclination to plant one myself.
Living in Texas, where it is hotter than you-know-where for a good portion of the year may play some part in my reluctance. Once something is planted here, it becomes a battle to keep it alive. Skip watering your plants for a day, and they start to wither. Miss a few days, and they will die altogether. Coming from the Pacific Northwest, this takes some getting used to. I understand it intellectually-the climate is different-but it still seems somehow wrong to me.
Now here it is, the tail end of a hot, dry Texas summer. Temperatures in the 90s and 100s every day, and humidity to boot. Yet this anti-gardening girl (despite her dominant inclinations) said yes to someone’s request to water their garden for a week while they are out of town. So I go over there, thinking it can’t be that bad. Some potted plants, a few flowers and shrubs in the ground. Should be a cinch. Funny how being the one doing the watering changes your perspective. What was formerly a pleasant garden now has me wondering if someone is trying to grow a jungle in East Texas.
As I move from one plant to the next, repeatedly going back to pull out more of the hose (and untangle it along the way), I mentally moan and groan. Why did I say yes? Why was I the one asked? Isn’t there an easier way to water these *stupid* plants? (Confession: yes, I sometimes have a very bad attitude towards things I voluntarily agreed to. Still working on changing that.) Not exactly the ideal attitude for spiritual musings to strike.
John 10:11-15 “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. “He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. “He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.”
I know very little about shepherding, not much more than I know about gardening. But I realized something as I was watering and grumbling. I am that hired hand. I water the plants, hoping they will stay alive until the owner comes back from vacation. But I really don’t have anything invested in them. Left to my own inclinations, I would be reading a good book while sitting in an air conditioned room, not swatting mosquitos and trying to keep this mini Amazon alive.
Just like this indifferent gardener, there are many indifferent shepherds out there. They take care of some of the day to day tasks, but their heart isn’t truly in it. When push comes to shove, safety and comfort will win out over the sheep. But there is one Shepherd who isn’t indifferent. The good Shepherd. He knows His own, and defends His own, no matter the cost. Blood, sweat, and tears, quite literally. He will never abandon the sheep. And for that, I am grateful.
Oh, and I hear He’s a pretty good gardener too…some place called Eden, I think?