The Best Gift

Grass Karl Forester bloom a 06 05 07She wanted dirt. Of all the things I might have expected my mother to tell me she wanted for her birthday, I never dreamed she would tell me she wanted a wheelbarrow full of dirt. But it wasn’t just any dirt she wanted for her birthday gift. She wanted my dirt; dirt from my flowerbed.

To be quite honest I really wished she had asked for something else… anything else. Not because I didn’t want to go to the trouble of digging up the dirt and hauling it to her house. You see, I’m stingy with my dirt. It’s not something I’m proud of; being selfish about sharing my dirt. I didn’t even realize I had this problem with sharing my dirt until a few years ago when I was helping prepare for our Master Gardeners’ semi-annual plant sale fundraiser.

As I dug and divided my perennials I had determined I would donate for the sale, I would find myself shaking off as much of my dirt as possible from the roots of my plants before I put them in the nursery pots. I went to great lengths to separate the tangled masses of roots, coaxing as much of the soil from amidst the jumble as possible. I bought bags of commercial potting soil to fill the nursery pots so I wouldn’t have to part with such quantities of my own. Why such selfish hoarding of my soil? It’s good soil; really good soil.

For many, many years I have invested time and money in the soil of my garden in order to improve and enrich it. When my husband and I first bought our home in 1992 there were no flowerbeds at all. Our back yard contained nothing more than some monkey bars, a basketball goal and a couple of shade trees. Not much of anything would grow there due to past years of wear and tear from future NBA players and Olympic gymnasts. But over the years it has been transformed into something we consider quite glorious. It didn’t get that way because of the plants we bought and installed or because of the birdbaths and the trellises. It got that way because of the soil; the foundation of the whole garden.

flowering-quince-cameo-a-03-28-08Let’s face it; from the perspective of the garden-lover, a garden is all about the plants. But a plant is only as good as the soil it grows in. Buy an expensive, rare perennial, plant it in poor soil, and you have nothing more than a poor or dying plant. That plant depends on the soil in which it grows and the nutrients contained in that soil. It relies on what it’s rooted in.

There’s good soil, then there’s bad soil. In the Parable of the Sower Jesus talked about the difference, and He went on to point out more than one type of bad soil. There was the hard path, the rocky soil, and the soil with weeds and thorns. His point was that the spiritual soil of our hearts can be good, or it can have a variety of problems. The problems arise when our soil is attacked by the Enemy.

Satan has a particular interest in the condition of the spiritual soil of our hearts. That’s where the seed of the message of God’s personal word to each of us is planted. That’s where the plant that bears the fruits of the Spirit grows. Satan knows he can’t touch that seed from God, but he can give us a spiritual soil disease. If we follow him, he can lead us to a point where our hearts are calloused like the hard path. He can fill our soil with rocks of doubt, leaving little room for proper root development. He can deplete the spiritual soil of our hearts of vital nutrients like faith, joy, peace and trust; leaving us with such poor soil that the only things that can grow there are thorny weeds.

It’s not just the plant bearing the fruits of the Spirit we need to consider. You see, we’re like plants, too. We are only as effective as the soil in which we are rooted. Unlike our garden plants, we have a choice as to what we sink our roots into. We can choose to root ourselves and grow in God’s agape love, or we can choose to root ourselves in philosophy, human tradition, or the elemental spiritual forces of this world.

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. (Colossians 2:6-10, NIV)

In Christ all the fullness of the Deity – the Godhead, the Holy Trinity – lives in bodily form. He was born as a baby more than two-thousand years ago. He died as a Savior paying the sin penalty for each and every one of us who accept that gift. He rose again to conquer death once and for all and seal our victory for us. And He still lives today. Does He live in your heart?

He can, through God’s gift of salvation. God gives that gift freely, abundantly and graciously. He isn’t stingy with it like I am with my good soil. But that gift is only a gift if it is received. Have you receive it for yourself? That’s the best gift you could ever receive this Christmas.

This post is a modified excerpt from the book Break Up Your Unplowed Ground: Unearthing God’s Desires for Your Life, by Janet Benson.

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