Gardens give us so many helpful metaphors for understanding life and our experiences. Once again during this summer of working in my garden I made a connection to an important lesson. I wanted my very own berry patch to have fresh raspberries and blackberries, but I didn’t get my plants on time. I got them very late and put them in the ground very late. So, I have a patch of brown sticks. Every day, unless it rains, I go out and water and weed my sticks. I fertilize, check on them, fence them in if wildlife starts to gnaw on them. I have not seen a single leaf, berry, or flower but I still carefully maintain their garden as if they were giving me buckets and buckets of berries.
It occurred to me that sometimes parenting is this way as well. For many years of parenting you are carefully tending, encouraging, and protecting this “stick” that provides nothing for you or to you. In my berry patch I have faith that my care matters, that giving my best to my sticks means there is something going on under the surface. I trust they are growing strong roots, establishing healthy systems to uptake nutrition from the soil and anchoring themselves to the ground so that they can produce my harvest of berries.
In parenting there are many years of “tending” and the harvest is uncertain. I want to encourage you not to give up watering your sticks even when there are no signs on the surface that all of your good work and care are making a dent. Sometimes under the surface the lessons, the discipline, the healthy home, and the Godly parenting is growing strong roots, healthy anchors in the soil and a way to uptake nutrition. Galatians reminds us, “Let us not become weary of doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9, NIV).
Good parenting matters, Godly parenting matters, doing what is right and good by your children matters. Parents quickly grow weary as the battle is long and most of the time lonely. Don’t give up, don’t give in. Continue to make right choices and do what is hard even if you don’t see the evidence. Trust God that if you follow him, you teach and model what is right he will control the outcome. I do want to give the caveat that sometimes the best parents do not end up with a harvest of love, relationship, friendship with their children. However, this is the exception and not the rule.
Some of us are called to harder roads than others and sometimes in parenting carefully tending does not yield a harvest. However, this message is not written for these cases, this is for those who don’t see results and are growing weary, disheartened, and discouraged by the constant wear of doing right and good. A Christian parent’s life is based on faith and what is faith? Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
The reason you keep doing good, watering, and caring for your own little sticks is because you have faith. You trust God will ensure your harvest and that by partnering with him in raising your children he is working under the soil and making your little “stick” a mighty oak or a fruitful berry. We all want our children to mature into adults who are like the oak who shades the weary or the berry that nourishes the hungry.
Weary gardeners who are carefully tending a patch of brown sticks don’t give up! Have faith in what is going on under the soil and the God who directs the process. Put your faith in him that a harvest is coming. I’ll see you out there, together watering our sticks.