Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.
I wish I could say that I am one of those gardeners who has a weed-free, perfectly trellised and supported, thriving garden. I wish I could say I have it all so well organized that I plant my fall crops where my spring crops were. These are things I know I should do. These are things I actually want to do! But I don’t.
I let the tomatoes tangle and spill far out of their cages. Cantaloupe and watermelon vines are everywhere with various grassy weeds growing through them. Cucumbers sprawl through the fence, up a trellis, and along the ground. By this time of year, things are turning brown and fruit is falling to the ground rotten.
My garden is done and needs a renovation now!
It is time to don long sleeves and pants and dive into the jungle of weeds, vines, and rotting things that I have neglected. Sure, those tomatoes were oh-so-welcome early this summer! But I am not so enamored with them anymore. Now, they are a reminder of the lazy gardener I become at the end of summer.
I pull up the anti-rabbit chicken wire fence, harvest the last of the fruit that looks edible, and begin ripping out the tangled mess of vines and plants that were once beautiful, prolific fruit bearers. Once the weeds and vines are cleared, I can see the once hidden, fertile soil and the overripe fruit that has fallen to the ground.
My spiritual life has cycles like my garden. I read the Bible and new truth is planted in me; a new understanding I never saw before.
I tend to it and begin to bear fruit from these new seeds God has planted. That fruit is oh-so-welcome and beautiful. Then I get comfortable and complacent. I ride the season out and begin to let vines sprawl and weeds hide and crowd the fertile soil. The fruit I once welcomed becomes common even though I should still see it as a blessing and miracle. The abundant blessings are taken for granted.
It is time for a serious renovation of my spiritual garden! A renewal of my mind.
God is not surprised by this nature. However, He does not want His people to stay stagnant and complacent. In His great wisdom He instituted Feasts and Festivals His people were to observe.
This time of year, God calls the people of Israel to observe the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hahannah) as a wake-up call. The trumpet blast ushers in The Days of Awe– a time for seeking Him which concludes with The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) – a day to be restored. Then the people celebrate with The Feast of Tabernacles – a week to experience His glory.
We are blessed to be under the New Covenant. We no longer need to sacrifice animals to atone for our sin. Jesus paid that price for us once and for all. But these Feasts and Festivals were not only ordinances during which sacrifices were to be made for the sin of the people. They were meant to be times for God’s people to remember and celebrate, repent and celebrate, give thanks and celebrate. This is to be a lasting ordinance for generations to come. Leviticus 23:21,31,41
The Apostle Paul and the early church did not cease to observe these feasts and festivals.
Unfortunately, today we do not set aside specific time with God to renew our minds through prayer and His word. Most of us neglect to institute days when we ask him to reveal what needs to be “weeded out.” We need days where we specifically allow the word of God to clean up and expose what needs to go; to reveal the abundant, overripe fruit that has fallen on fertile soil ready to be tilled in to produce new and abundant crops in perfect time. Imagine if we saw and understood what God wants us to take the time to see. What a glorious experience!
In Romans 12:2, Paul tells us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. As God’s chosen and dearly loved people, we, like the Israelites should set aside time to wake up and read scripture with fresh eyes and a seeking heart. Read familiar passages with the awe and wonder you did the first time you read them. When God reveals the weeds, diseases, and rotten places of sin, repent and be restored through the atoning work of Jesus Christ, then celebrate and experience His glory.
The work done in my garden this time of year must also be done in my spiritual life, the garden of my heart. If I were a better gardener, this work would be done daily, and to some extent it is. But seasons are God’s creation and He has specific and restoring work for us in each season in addition to our daily renewal. Celebrate and embrace what He wants to reveal and renew in you. With awe and wonder, till the rotting fruit under to die, be broken open, and allow new, fruitful life to spring forward.
Heavenly Father, thank you for the cycles, seasons, work, and rest you created so that we can know you, trust in your provision, and praise you in everything. Help us to pause and set aside specific time in your word and with others to celebrate and worship you. Renew our minds so that we see blessings in things we have taken for granted. Help us to keep our hearts pure, die to the old, and keep the fertile soil of our hearts ready for the fruit you want to produce through us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen