“Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.” Psalms 51:10
It’s a mess.
Corn stalks. Carrot tops. Leaves, blown hither and yon. Discarded foliage and vegetables too scrawny to store, perennials whose stalks have succumbed to the killing frosts of autumn – all need to be dealt with.
It’s tidying time in the garden.
The last of the carrots and parsnips got dug yesterday. The last of the kale and Swiss chard have been picked. The herbs have been snipped and prepped. Now, the process of dealing with the aftermath of this year’s harvest can begin. The mess is a natural outcome of growing anything of value – there is necessarily some waste as crops are gathered for the winter.
Most organic growth can be mulched, chewed to bits to enable it to break down. From dust it arose, and to dust it will return; the amazing cycle of life and death will add rich nutrients and good filth to the soil, guaranteeing good growth in the years to come.
But it needs to be sorted, spread, chopped, hauled, and dealt with.
It takes some effort, to be sure.
And it needs to be done regularly, a part of the routine of the gardener, to keep the task from getting gout of hand.
David prayed this prayer of repentance long ago – but it still stands us in good stead today. It is a prayer of maintenance, of keeping the unwanted debris of life from piling up too high. It is a sorting and categorizing of what can be recycled, and what needs to be hauled away.
A tidying up of his inner heart garden.
A mess is a natural result of just being alive in a fallen world. But the truth is, if we leave garbage and debris lying around the garden, it soon isn’t a nice place to visit. In a similar way, if we neglect our spiritual garden, dead and decaying material can plug up our pathways and block the beauty God wants to draw out of us.
But just as old plant material can add nutrition to the soil when applied properly, what we learn from our mistakes and sinful patterns of behaviour can enrich our lives and create new growth, beauty from ashes.
I want to be clean. Tidy. Keep short accounts.
I want my life to grow something healthy and full of rich flavour, colour, texture, and blooms.
In order to notice what needs a good tidying session, I need to spend time in my garden. Out of sight, I will conveniently forget what needs doing. In the same way, I need to stay in touch with my heart, keep reading God’s Word, or I won’t notice the weeds creeping in, and the decaying messes piling up.
I need to stay connected to Jesus or I’ll be slow to notice bad attitudes, negative thought patterns, or foolish habits.
And none of those have any place in a beautiful heart garden…
Determine to keep your heart tidy with me?
Father, we need regular heart maintenance just as we need garden cleaning after harvest. Help us to recognize signs of decay in our attitudes and thoughts. Help us to keep short accounts, confessing sin as we recognize it cropping up. Cleanse us and create a beautiful character within our heart gardens! Amen.