Master Gardener

Early in the spring, I purchased some violas; cold-tolerant, hardy and sometimes they return next year as perennials (a bonus for the frugal woman in me). I couldn't possibly go wrong. Except that it was so cool, I neglected to water them. Half of them are dead now and I admit, I am no Master Gardener.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
I love this verse. It's always been a model of excellence I've wanted to strive toward. Many times I have pondered what attribute I need to increase or cultivate. What a friend has helped me to understand for the first time is that it is the Spirit doing the work, not me. The Holy Spirit is the Master Gardener. (And thankfully, He won't forget to water!) The Holy Spirit is God within me influencing and satisfying my life.
Another thing I've never gave thought: fruit is the metaphor for these sweet, desirable attributes. In Minnesota, we can't grow many fruit trees, but IMO our honey crisp apples are the best. A newly planted apple tree takes 2-5 years before you have any fruit to harvest. All the time and energy invested into that first yield is no small sum. There's pruning in the winter months, keeping it free of pests (bugs, worms, deer, ect), fertilization in spring and fall, extra watering during drought... A hailstorm would make the year a bust. A late spring frost could destroy the blossoms and yield no harvest in the fall. A strong wind storm could tear all the apples off the tree, thrashing them to the ground. An early fall frost might bite them before the gardener has opportunity to harvest or before they are fully ripened.  Left on it's own, I'm not sure there would be an apple harvest. Thank goodness for the gardener. And a final note about apple trees. They typically are fruit bearing every other year. Every fruit plant needs a time of rest or dormancy.
The attributes depicted in Galatians will have seasons and we need protection as well as provision. But we can't just try harder to make love, joy peace...describe our lives. It has nothing to do with us, but the Master Gardener. We must allow the Spirit to prune, protect and provide. Verse sixteen describes it as walking by the Spirit.
This is a continual and conscious decision: to give the Master Gardener control. Left on my own, I will attempt satisfaction by my own selfish desires.
For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. Galatians 5:17
I want to have self-control in my eating habits. But Satan knows me and he can use sugar to lure me into a binge. In a binge, I am not allowing the Holy Spirit to be my Master Gardener. But I have a choice in the matter. Naturally, I won't have self-control and will keep binge eating. If I don't consciously relinquish control to the Master Gardener, in essence I'm choosing sin to influence me.
The golden heads tucked in tight and prayed over, I walked into the kitchen. This is usually my biggest temptation to binge eat: celebrating another day of mothering accomplished. Empowered by this new revelation of choice, I said to myself, I am controlled and led by the Holy Spirit and walked out of the kitchen for the rest of the evening. Unfortunately, it will take many repeated choosing the Master Gardener experiences to replace my ingrained old habits but He who is in me is greater than the sin living in me (1 John 4:4). And The Master Gardener is faithful, He will surely do it (1Thessalonians 5:24).
Have you been trying hard to let your life be marked by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? Spend some time thinking about the only One who can really do this work in your life. Then choose to repent. Turn away from your own way of trying and turn toward God, allowing the Holy Spirit to be the Master Gardener. If you consciously choose Him, He won't forget to water!

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