Spiritual Gardening

Cameron Hyslop   -  

I’ve always had the practice of doing some gardening on my day off. There’s something relaxing and even therapeutic about weeding, trimming, raking, fertilising and spraying. The finished product is always worth the effort.

As I pull the weeds in the garden, I am often astounded at how quickly they grow back. And they do it without any attention from me . So I pull them out diligently, but it never ends. A few weeks later they’re coming back again. It doesn’t take too much thought to recognise that the weeds in my garden are like the sin in my life. I have to work hard at cultivating godliness in my life and yet I don’t need to put in any effort for sin to take root. Frustratingly, no matter how much I work at putting sin to death, it keeps re-emerging. And like many weeds, the sin presents itself as something pretty (like a yellow dandelion). But watch out! If left to do it’s thing it quickly goes to seed and multiplies itself, producing even more sin in the garden of my life.

So, I am reminded by the weeds in my back garden that I need to not just recognise the sin in my life, but keep turning to God and asking for his forgiveness. To ask for his help in weeding out the sin that’s growing.

I’m also reminded to be thankful for the saving work of Jesus that enables me to be right before God even with my weeds.

Sometimes I prune the plants in the garden that are growing in directions I don’t want them to go in. On the few occasions when I actually know what I’m doing, I’ll even prune in such a way as to make the plant more productive. Again I’m reminded that my life can head in directions that are contrary to following Jesus and make me unproductive.

Of course God undertakes a pruning process with us when we’re heading off track. He does it so that we’ll stay on track and be more fruitful (John 15:2). As I clip away, I ask God to keep pruning me. I thank him for caring for me enough to not just accept me (with my sin), but improve me to be more like his son. It’s worth noting that Romans 8:29 comes in the context of hardship and suffering.

29 For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers. – Rom 8:29

When I am finding the going is tough I ask for clarity of sight, that I might see how God is working through the circumstances I’m in to make me more mature.

And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.  – Romans 5:3-5

Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.   – James 1:2-4

I don’t tend to do a lot of fertilizing in the garden unless I’m putting in new plants. Instead, I like to use mulch to nourish the garden. A good mulch will provide plenty of nutrients to help the plants stay healthy. Of course it’s important to keep the garden moist with a good watering as well so the nutrients get down to the roots.

Mulching reminds me of the need to keep feeding from God’s word each day. To be well fed takes some time. Not just a quick read, but more of a soak – enabling the goodness to sink in.

How happy is the man
who does not follow the advice of the wicked
or take the path of sinners
or join a group of mockers!
Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction,
and he meditates on it day and night.
He is like a tree planted beside streams of water
that bears its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.    – Psalm 1

A regular Bible diet will keep me spiritually healthy and better able to resist temptations.

Sometimes healthy plants are at risk of attack and so an insecticide spray or some snail pellets can help protect the garden from enemies.

In the same way I need protection from the attacks of the evil one. Ephesians 6:16 remind me to use the shield of faith. Faith is expressed in prayer and so it’s no surprise that Jesus taught his disciples to pray “deliver us from evil”. So, I’m reminded to pray for God’s help.

In the end the fresh garden reminds me of the refreshed spiritual status I have before God.


During our time of isolation – why not get out in the garden and do a bit of weeding, pruning, feeding and protecting. While you’re at it, spend the time communing with the creator. He knows more about gardening than any of us.

Remember that spiritual gardening is his speciality. So make sure you invest time in his word and in prayer as well.