Growing your own vegetables has become very popular with an increase in the number of people having allotments to grow a wide variety of plants. A fact I didn’t know is that there is a National Allotments Week and this year it concludes tomorrow having celebrated its 21st birthday.
I read somewhere that there is more money spent on gardening than on any other hobby, but I’m not sure if this is before, or after, the visit to the garden centre’s coffee shop which always seems to be busier than the garden centre itself.
Perfect lawns and explosions of colour
Some people – including farmers - are keen gardeners who give lots of their time and energy to the garden, with grass mowed to perfection and flowerbeds exploding with colour – that however, isn’t a description of my garden!
The Bible has many references to gardens. In the Book of Genesis, we read about the Garden of Eden, which must have been a wonderful place. The word ‘Eden’ means ‘pleasure’ yet this place of pleasure was to change forever, as Adam and Eve decided they knew better than God did and disobeyed the one simple instruction that they were given. This disobedience resulted in sin entering the world.
Their actions also had implications for the earth – and for farmers- as God rebuked them saying, “‘Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you…’” (Genesis 3:17-18.) Because of this disobedience, not only was there separation from the garden, but also, as the Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 5, there was separation from God. That separation affects us all to this day, “For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners” (Romans 5:19.)
Pain and separation in Gethsemane
Centuries later, in another garden, the Garden of Gethsemane, there was also separation. As Jesus faced death, He prays, “‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will’” (Matthew 26:39). He knew the pain, separation from God, and the agony of the cross that lay ahead of Him, paying the price for our sin, so that you and me might be restored into a right relationship with God. As the hymn writer puts it: ‘Saviour of Calvary, costliest victory, darkness defeated and Eden restored; born as a man to die, nailed to a cross on high, cold in the grave to lie, Jesus is Lord!’
When the dying thief called out on the cross “‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom’” (Luke 23:42) he received this wonderful promise: “‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise’” (43). So, if you repent of your sin, and trust in Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, you too will be with Him in paradise one day. The night before, Jesus told His disciples that He was going ahead to prepare a place for them (John 14). Your Saviour also goes ahead of you.
I also read somewhere that the word ‘paradise’ is a Persian word meaning ‘a walled garden used by a king’. Whether we think of heaven as a mansion, or as a garden, the way to it is the same - by trusting in the finished work of Jesus on the cross. You may have your allotment or garden on earth; but have you a garden in heaven too?
Robin Fairbairn is pastor/evangelist with Ballygowan Presbyterian Church in County Down and also works as ministry development officer with The Good Book Company. He lives in the country and has been farming every Saturday for more years than he cares to admit.
His blog appeared in a fortnightly column entitled ‘Good News For the Countryside’, in today’s Farming Life, where people from a farming background, or who have a heart for the countryside, offer a personal reflection on faith and rural life.
You can look at other blogs in this series here. If you would like to talk to someone about any of the issues raised in this article, please email Rev Kenny Hanna, PCI’s Rural Chaplain at email@example.com or call him on 07938 488 372.