Watering With God (The Grass is Always Greener)

I didn’t become a Christian until shortly before my 18th birthday. Until then, I’d, more or less, been a “good girl.” I didn’t smoke or drink. I didn’t party. I got good grades.

There were nicer, kinder kids than me, certainly. But there were “worse.” I thought I was pretty okay.

And then I learned about sin. How I, even I, was guilty of it. It was a bitter pill to swallow: being a good person wasn’t going to get me to heaven.

And really, I wasn’t much different from the kids who partied, smoke, or got C’s in English. Sin was the great equalizer, in some respects. Being a good person only got you so far.

But, Jesus ….

Trusting Jesus to be truly good was way better than trying to do it myself. His death on the cross had paid for my sins and washed them clean away. I was a new creation.

It was exhilarating to know that Someone loved me just as I was, Someone knew me — and all my well-disguised faults — and  still loved me.

What a Savior!

At the same time there have been seasons where I’ve been dissatisfied with my spiritual life. I saw blossoms in another’s garden that should have been blooming in mine. Or so I thought.

  • Why didn’t I have a solid rock faith?
  • Why did I worry so much?
  • Why can’t I quote Scripture like that?
  • Why did I feel so angry inside?
  • Why don’t I understand the Bible so well?

Perhaps I compared myself to another woman, some super spiritual woman, who seemingly had it all together, or even compared myself with a figment of my imagination. Maybe I measured myself against what I thought I should be instead of resting in who God had made me to be.

Sometimes I’ve confused application with principles and mistakenly planted — or tried to plant — the exact same colors and styles of flowers that someone else has growing instead of planting what best fit in my garden for that time and season. I’ve tried to be like someone else and mimic her faith rather than walking the path that God has set for me.

Oh comparisons, real or imagined, can get us in a heap of trouble.

Water with God

Now I would consider my faith in Christ to be the most important part of my garden “to water.”

Yet, there’s this strange paradox about “working” on one’s relationship with God. We don’t get to dictate how that relationship will grow. We don’t get to choose how God will stretch us and mold us. We don’t have the power to summon spirituality the way we might order a flat of marigolds from the town nursery.

He’s not a tame lion. — CS Lewis, in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

God is the one to decide how we grow in faith. And it’s not always a prim and proper English garden, predictable and sure. Plants grow in a cultivated garden as much as they do in the mountain wilderness.

How do we grow a stronger faith a God?

I do not have a get-spiritual-quick scheme to sell you. It just doesn’t exist. God is not one to be manipulated or cajoled. But, He is one to love us and who desires that we, His children, grow and flourish.

I’ve tried copying other people; I’ve tried hunting down great books; I’ve tried a number of “tricks” to be more like Him.

There are no tricks. God has a plan already.

But, you can do your best to show up.

Be in the word.

Pick up the Bible and read. If you’re out of practice or have never read much Scripture before, it may seem odd or awkward at first. The Book of John is a great place to start learning about Jesus’ life on Earth.

For years I was reticent to read the Bible myself, instead relying on what others had to say about God. And even then, I often skipped over the passages of Scripture that they quoted! A few too many detours and wrong turns, and I concluded that reading the Map myself was the best way to understand and know what God wanted us to know.

This doesn’t negate the teaching of solid Bible commentators and preachers, but like the Bereans, we need to hold up all teachings to the light of scripture and make sure they jive.

Pray.

God has given us the wonderful gift of prayer to allow us to commune with Him. Few of us use it as often or as fervently as we should.

Don’t get caught up with finding “the right way to pray.” Just talk to God. Lay out your concerns, your joys, your weaknesses before Him. Write them in a journal as “letters to God” if that is easier.

Talk to Him and He will direct your paths.

Reading the Bible and praying are two beautiful gifts that God has given us to tend our spiritual gardens. They aren’t the only means to encourage growth, but they are two great tools.

We can’t necessarily control what grows and flourishes, but if we are faithful to water our lives with prayer and scripture, Jesus will make them bloom.

 What helps YOU water your spiritual life?

This is an ongoing series. If you missed the first installment, you can go back to the beginning.

Next: Growing a Beautiful Marriage

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Comments

  1. Wonderful post! I loved reading your testimony.

  2. I had been in a “spiritual desert” for quite some time bogged down by sick kids, sleep deprivation, messes, and the craziness of three kids under four. Though I would never blame my kids for my lack of seeking the Lord, I tried to walk this crazy life on my own strength. A dear mentor who I respect greatly told me this summer I would be able to get by for awhile on my own strength, but eventually I would keep sinking. He was right. Since that event I get up every morning 20 minutes before the kids do and read my Bible and pray. I’m also in an intense Bible Study with four other moms. It’s not to make my life easier or even better–just to be in God’s presence again seeking Him. Oh and I’m a pastor’s wife. We’re not perfect–we struggle with spiritual problems just as much as the next woman.

  3. Beautifully written! You are so inspiring, no matter one’s age.

  4. I was also a “good girl”. I’ve never smoked, drank, or have done drugs but i often think of the verse in Revelations; to be either hot or cold – not lukewarm . I can do good things but in the end, I need to have an all out, all the time relationship with Jesus Christ. I struggle with this everyday and I thank you for ministering to me today.

  5. I loved this post, Jessica. And I am really enjoying this series. It is a challenge for me to be content in the “now”. I am encouraged by this post to water my own lawn & enjoy the plants/flowers God is growing in me.

    This part really made me think:
    “Yet, there’s this strange paradox about “working” on one’s relationship with God. We don’t get to dictate how that relationship will grow. We don’t get to choose how God will stretch us and mold us. We don’t have the power to summon spirituality…
    God is the one to decide how we grow in faith. And it’s not always a prim and proper English garden, predictable and sure. Plants grow in a cultivated garden as much as they do in the mountain wilderness.”

    Thanks for inspiring me to water my own lawn!

  6. I’ve been thinking about spiritual maturity so much lately. I had hoped to be much further along in the journey than where I am right now. When I get caught up in the details of the faith, it’s usually the simple that grounds me. Time in the Word is so vital if I’m to grow at all. We’ll all grow in different ways, as you mention. I’ve been searching for my Titus 2 mentor and reflecting on the verse where Jesus said “those who love me obey my commands.” Obedience, time with God, and prayer. Simple, yet profound. So I pray that God will help me to do these simple things that I tend to overcomplicate on my own…one day at a time :)

  7. Watering my spiritual life…

    Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. (Jms 4)

    Practically speaking: KNOWING His Word (continually exposing myself, chewing on it, talking about it, OBEYING it). Dedicated quiet time (first thing in the am is best -before the littles are up, when it’s still dark outside!) to focus thoughts, priorities, and attitude on CHRIST throughout the day. Intercession for others (getting the mental focus OFF of myself, and joining Him in the bigger picture). Accountability with dear friends who have the same heartbeat: to know Jesus, and let Him have free reign in our lives and families. Encouragement through the faithful community I choose to spend much of my personal time involved/doing life with.

    And a perspective:
    Dependence. I have NOTHING without Him. My very life, breath, and any success in any thing is all through Him. Utter, desperate NEED for Him. (the Vine & the branch)
    Acknowledgement. He is BEAUTIFUL. AWESOME, ALL-sustaining, ALL-fulfilling, PERFECT [hurricane] LOVE. For ME. He is SO desirable to know more.
    Availability. By dwelling on Him and in Him in all things (such a project in mental & spiritual discipline accomplished only by His ABUNDANT grace) He is free to teach me all day in everything.

    Most importantly, I think:
    cultivating an attitude of HUMILITY. Clearly the Scriptures state that God OPPOSES the proud, but gives GRACE to the humble. I must come to Him with the awareness (and confession) of my NEED for Him for life, that HE is right when He convicts or reveals, that He is worthy of my trust and obedience, that He is GOOD (even if some of what He walks me through is desperately painful). Come with awareness of my sin and of His grace and His victory and His availability to His children.

    The struggle won’t end until we get to Heaven, but this journey through life is, with Him, in all circumstances, truly ABUNDANT.

    He loves us deeply- what more could He have done to become accessible to us? Does He not make incomprehensibly clear that HE WANTS US? Wants us to KNOW Him? DWELL with Him? LOVE Him? EXPERIENCE His love? Be FREED from sin? KNOW the TRUTH – know HIM in Truth? He has done such awesome, mighty things to make Himself known to us. I think if we acknowledge Him and just SHOW UP before Him with a seeking heart… we FIND Him.

  8. Prayer and quiet time to read and study the Bible. The rest of my life is a direct reflection of how much time I spend doing both of those things or the lack thereof. :(

    I truly appreciate you including posts like this along with all the other great posts.
    Thank you for including the Bread of Life in the midst of all the other recipes. :)

  9. Really enjoyed this post. Thank you!

  10. Love this post! I have been caught in the comparison trap before. I think you’re dead right about how important it is to read the Bible and pray. I’m amazed at how much closer I’ve grown to God by practicing those two disciplines. I love what you wrote about how God has a different plan and story for each of us and that we don’t get to choose the ways in which he grows us up.

  11. Loved this paragraph: “Yet, there’s this strange paradox about “working” on one’s relationship with God. We don’t get to dictate how that relationship will grow. We don’t get to choose how God will stretch us and mold us. We don’t have the power to summon spirituality the way we might order a flat of marigolds from the town nursery.”

    I have never quite thought about that aspect of growing our faith, so thank you for sharing it!

  12. Just spending quality quiet time with the Lord and His Word. Talking with Him throughout the day. In this way, I know His voice and I know the counterfeit. When we are filled with the Father, we can’t help but share it with others with a merciful and caring heart. It might be at the grocery store with the checker or another person shopping,, maybe the nursing home. Oh what a blessing the Christian walk is!

    Many may say they know the Lord like they know George Bush Jr. or Ronald Reagan but they know about him not really know him personally. This can only be done by personal time with Him.

    We’ve trained our girls this way too, daily quiet time with the Lord.

    Great entry, and paramount in the middle of budgets, dimes and cents and homelife.

    May we never forget our first Love, Jesus.

  13. Love love love this post. Thank you for taking the time to write it and including all that you did. Love your blog..

  14. Wonderful reminder to stay in the word! The grass is indeed greener where you water! Thanks for sharing!

  15. i am appreciating this series. thank you.

  16. Thanks so much Jessica! That is exactly what I needed.

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