It had been a long year but I didn’t realise how bad it was.
It was my first Saturday morning with no pressing responsibilities and I found myself gazing out of the kitchen window into the back garden. It looked embarrassingly unkempt, with so many jobs that remained undone, due to lack of vigilance, diligence and time. There were weeds dotted all over the backyard, several unpruned rose bushes, and the prickly blackberry bushes were out of control along the back fence. I pondered how easy it was to let the garden get out of control when life gets busy.
Then it dawned on me- my spiritual garden was also unkempt. Due to my relentless schedule and all its demands I had ceased panting after Jesus Christ. With a hectic year full of essays, exams, sermon preparation and family responsibilities, somehow my soul had become lean. The days of prayerlessness were dotted all over my year, the sharpening knife of God’s Word had done so little cutting, and my flesh had been left to run riot.
Consequently, my Bible reading was merely being done to advance a bookmark, rather than intentional mediation on Christ coupled with a resolve to obey Him. Further, my prayer life had become perfunctory lip- service rather than intimate communion with my living God.
Although throughout this time there was confession- there was no brokenness-so the besetting sins returned. Then it happened; in hindsight it was unobservable, I suddenly began to craft a spiritual persona to those around me to masquerade the decaying spiritual vitality. This incipient declension of hypocrisy, however, was my wake-up call to strengthen my resolve to get to work on my unkempt spiritual garden.
Just like a well-kept garden needs constant weeding, pruning and general maintenance so do our souls. In the same way we can’t let our gardens at home run its course so we can’t leave our spiritual gardens unchecked. A well-kept spiritual garden demands we constantly pull out persistent weeds of sin, it demands we expose ourselves to the sharp pruning edge of the living Word, and it demands we never allow the prickly flesh to run riot.
That morning we hit the garden hard. The lawns were mowed, the weeds were pulled out with vigour, the blackberry bushes were hacked out of the ground and my wife graciously decided to prune the roses. Although the end result wasn’t a picture perfect backyard, this would be impossible to do in a day, the lesson had been learnt. The same ongoing vigilance and faithful diligence required to maintain our back gardens is required to maintain our spiritual gardens.
Steven Kilner is married to Jodie and has three sons, they have a eight year-old, a six year-old and a three year-old. They attend Canterbury Gardens Community Church. Steven is studying theology at PTC and Jodie is undertaking a diploma in Nursing.