Living In New England, you often get the opportunity to smell the fresh manure that has been moved about at a farm or spread on a field. (And truth be told, some farms smell better than others!) Well, no story of a garden can take place without fertilizer and that means even the “spiritual garden” we often speak of.
As a child I fast learned that fertilizer grew things. My parents bought a lawn spreader that put fertilizer (Or grass seed.) on the lawn. My parents would take the large dusty bags and pour it in the hopper. The dust would rise up and it had a sharp biting smell to it. The spreader would put it out over the lawn. It seemed like days later the lawn would be greener, brighter, healthier.
Even as a young child I was able to observe the value of fertilizer. (I saw what the grass looked like over the septic system. So much greener than the surrounding grass.) My parents taught me about the need for fertilizer. In their vegetable garden they would add fertilizer to insure the health of the vegetables in the Connecticut clay.
Years later, I worked on a small farm. The owner of the farm, Mr. Arbuckle had chickens. Once a week, I would shovel the chicken manure out the window into a large pile that accumulated over the fall and winter months to be used in the garden each spring. The pile never gathered much snow, as the manure generated a lot of heat. As I would dig holes for the seed he would instruct me to put more manure in the holes. He had a predetermined amount that went under the squash mounds, differing amounts for tomatoes, beans and corn. I would shovel it out from the wheelbarrow in to the holes or trenches.
Fertilizers add the minerals and nutrients that are required to increase the quality of growth. The fertilizer has the ability to change the soil quality and composition. Even difficult soils can be transformed by fertilizers and organic materials (compost) over time.
It’s funny that one of the oft quoted verses “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Genesis 3:19) talks about the value of the ground. Man was formed out of earth in the beginning. Within the dirt something had to be placed that would catalyze, change the very essence of the dirt, while adding nutrients and minerals.
I thought long and hard about it. What changed me? Yes, God in His mercy and His grace, but what were some of the changes that came and what triggered them? It was my past. And all the pain and fear and mistakes. Now, that sounds pretty bad in light of the scripture that tells me “it is the goodness of God that draws me to repentance”. But I am talking about manure, dung and smelly stuff.
Years ago a bunch of us were sledding at a farm. One of the guys thought he would be able to sled right over the hill of manure. What he did not realize was that the manure never really froze. As he headed towards the pile, I thought “I am not sure he is going to make it”. I had been on the top of that pile unloading wheelbarrows of smelly, wet chicken manure. I was right. Instead of going up and over , he went through the fresh new snow and “disappeared” into the side of the pile. He went in shoulder deep. We ran to pull him out, laughing all the way! As we pulled his sled and his body out, his face was covered and he was spitting as fast as he could. Nothing about that would make me want to “add manure” to my life.
But somehow some way each of us had made mistakes that have been as foul as the manure and its smell. (Paul said in the KJV translation of Philippians 3:8, “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ”. The word is skubula. Not a real “good” word…)
But there was also a death 2,000 plus years ago and I entered as a co-crucifixion participant. (Galatians 2:20) My death. And in death a body comes to produce nutrients in the earth. Carcasses that have fallen, perhaps beneath the eagles. Jesus raised Lazarus while other were concerned that he would “stinketh”!
And goodness? Oh yes! There is grace and mercy and love. And it is the meditation on the revelation of Christ and His word, that produces change. The concerns of God, the goodness towards you and the goodness given to you by others provides “fertilizer” as well. (Only this morning I was asked by someone, what season do you think I am. Springtime requires a lot of fertilizer!)
Perhaps it seems like “overkill” to address the garden and it’s fertilizer, but I think not. I think it is really important. These nutrients produce healthy individuals, resistant to the enemy. The more the health of the people, the less “room” for weeds! Your “garden” may be different. Your nutrients received from “other sources”.
So when someone asks you, “how does your garden grow” you can respond with the fact that it needs fertilizer!
Sometimes the “smelliest” things produce the most beautiful of flowers and the most luscious of vegetables. Despite the “smell” to not apply “fertilizer” to your garden will leave it in a weakened, unhealthy condition. Today, let the fertilizers be applied to your life and let the garden grow.