Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Softly And Tenderly Jesus Is Calling"1 (Lyrics)
Jeremiah 17:8 – He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. (NIV)
God gives us different abilities, and mine is gardening. Our property lies beside the road and can be seen by strangers passing by. From spring to fall I'm outside, trowel in hand. The perennials obediently come into bloom every year exactly on time. In a country garden, there are no rules except that no earth can be visible. Bare earth grows weeds, and my "babies" started from seed wouldn't survive. Transplanting in July is a challenge. I watch carefully. Summer is unpredictable, and in dry weather, only the strongest survive. This past summer was a challenge because of drought. There were no vegetables to share, and flowers succumbed to the heat. In the fall, shrubs need to be protected from cold damage and enemy rabbits. As I ready my garden for winter, I feel sad bidding my "friends" farewell.
In all of this, I am reminded that however hard I work, I can't make any of it happen without God's hand. He created the huge variety of flowers; He makes the seeds sprout; He sends the seasons in order; He sends or withholds the sun and the rain; and He tops it all off with birds and butterflies for our gardening pleasure. I need to guard against being too proud of my work.
Unfortunately, King Nebuchnezzar fell into the trap of pride. He built the beautiful gardens of Babylon and made the mistake of thinking that he'd done it all himself. He dreamed that he was a tree that was chopped down, but that didn't stop him from being immensely proud. Pride goes before a fall is straight from the Bible in Proverbs 18:12. God took his kingdom away from him for seven years, until he acknowledged the Lord in heaven.
I like this quotation attributed to St. Teresa of Calcutta: "I'm a little pencil in the hand of a writing God, who is sending a love letter to the world." Whether pencil, trowel, or whatever our tool, let us remember that God is working through us, using us to show the world His glory. Let's humble ourselves before Him in adoration. He takes pleasure when we enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done, when we share our blessings with others, and when we use our skill to glorify Him. That's "good fruit".
Prayer: Father, forgive us for sometimes starting to believe that we ourselves are responsible for creating something good. Help us to remember that You give us the skill, and You supply everything we need to do a job that glorifies You and You alone. Amen.