A lesson about God’s Abundance from the GardenHow do we experience God’s abundance? I discovered this summer that an answer to that question can be found in one’s garden.
By: Pastor Susan Berge, Knife River Lutheran Church, Lake County News Chronicle
How do we experience God’s abundance? I discovered this summer that an answer to that question can be found in one’s garden. Often we think about abundance in terms of financial or material blessings, but this summer I’ve been thinking about abundance differently. It began with the sunflowers. Along with some other flowers and vegetables, I had grown two sunflower seedlings, starting indoors in April — something I’d never tried before. I’ve never had sunflowers in my garden, and these two seedlings somehow symbolized something about summer and sunshine for me during the long, snowy days of April. Remember the long, snowy days of April? It was extremely discouraging to me, therefore, when both of the seedlings promptly keeled over when I attempted to transplant them outdoors. Despondently, I haphazardly planted a few sunflower seeds in the garden soil itself, but I had little hope for them, since a deluge of rain fell over the next several days, which I reasoned had washed the seeds away. Consider my surprise and delight, then, when in the middle of the summer, I realized that not one or two, but about a half a dozen sunflowers were, in fact, growing in my garden, from those seeds planted without much hope or conviction. Furthermore, a sunflower is mysteriously growing in my herb patch among the basil, elsewhere in my yard, without rhyme or reason. And then there are numerous sunflowers sprouting in yet another flower garden patch that sits beneath—you guessed it—-a bird feeder filled with sunflower seeds! So I found I’d moved from no sunflowers and a sense of discouragement, to an abundance of sunflowers! Some were a result of my efforts, but others were a sheer instance of serendipity. And I almost always see the hand of God when it comes to serendipity!
After the sunflowers, there were the raspberries. My husband and I had several times discussed planting some raspberry bushes along the back fence during this summer, our second full summer in our new home. But, we never got around to doing so. It was only last week that I noticed, while walking along the back fence, some red raspberries growing there! Amazed, I looked more closely and discovered that there are already a number of raspberry bushes along our back fence, laden with sweet fruit, and we had somehow not noticed them in the two years we’d lived in our home. Contentedly picking and eating those ripe berries, I again recognized the truth of the Psalm which states, “Taste and see that the Lord is good”. Another example of serendipity and God’s hidden hand at work! I couldn’t help but feel that God was showing me through these sunflowers and raspberries, something about how God works: abundantly, generously, and often, surprisingly.
Now, as summer begins to wind down and harvest time approaches, I am increasingly aware of God’s abundance and generosity as I look at my small and simple garden, to say nothing of the beauty of the season in all of nature around us. Planned and unplanned, we see God’s beauty coming to fruit. Truly, God is good!
I find that it is heartening and humbling to reflect that God’s Spirit is always and already on the loose, at work in our lives and in this world. We, as people of faith, hope to catch up to that Spirit, to be a part of what God is up to in us and around us. And we do so, hopefully, knowing that God is a God of abundance and sunflowers and raspberries!
Pastor Susan Berge is the pastor of Knife River Lutheran Church. She is an enthusiastic, albeit inexperienced, gardener in her home in Duluth.