In the past I’ve planted a few things on my little balcony in the spring. Some flowers, maybe some vegetables…but this year I just didn’t get around to it. So I had several empty planters sitting on my balcony—empty except for the soil that remained. Then I noticed they weren’t empty anymore. Something was growing in them. Every single one of them had something coming up green.
I was curious to see what would happen, so I left them alone and watched. I got a sunflower, grass and some weeds. I’m really not sure where it all came from. I live on the second floor. I might think my little pots were “sheltered,” and maybe they were to a degree, but not completely. Outside influences still got in. Seed germinated in the soil—whether it was something past that lay dormant in the soil, or something transported there by bird or insect.
As I watched the mystery plants grow, I was struck by several life-lessons.
- Everything wants to grow. It is natural for things to grow. Even when you think there is nothing there to grow, things still grow. All of life is hungry to live and grow—both the good and the bad.
- Left unchecked, there will be some good and pleasant things that grow (like the sunflower), but there will also be things you don’t want growing, like the weeds. (So to control what comes up, you have to be intentional about what you plant.)
- No matter how protected, sheltered or removed you may think your pot (or your child or your life, etc.) is, outside influences will still get in. (So you better keep watching and get rid of weeds whenever they appear.)
I can’t help but think about my own life and realize that sometimes I am as haphazard with areas of my life as I was with those pots this summer. If my life is a garden, then I have a few pots I tend to really well. I have some areas that I cultivate and garden year round. But I have some other pots I just don’t get to. There are other areas in my life that I treat like those pots on my balcony—I am tired and busy and don’t get around to planting them, assuming I can just leave them alone for now and plant them next year.
The problem is, those pots are ripe for planting and if I don’t take control of what goes in them, they won’t just stay dormant, they’re going to grow something—probably a mixture of things, both good and bad—because life wants to happen; things want to grow. And while I may think they are out of the way, life still gets in.
I was reminded of Psalm 101. This is a Psalm about tending the pots, and gardening your soul intentionally. Look at the resolve and commitments he makes to put good seed in his pots and to keep the bad seed out. I don’t know about you, but I am convicted every time I read this. Take verse 3, I may have committed not to watch bad stuff, but he commits to avoid anything that is worthless. That is a commitment so far beyond mine…because he understands the power things have to grow when allowed into the soil our minds. I don’t know about you, but I have a lot to learn and a long way to go when it comes to caring for the pots in my soul.
Psalm 101 English Standard Version (ESV)
I Will Walk with Integrity
A Psalm of David.
101 I will sing of steadfast love and justice; to you, O Lord, I will make music. 2 I will ponder the way that is blameless. Oh when will you come to me? I will walk with integrity of heart within my house; 3 I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me. 4 A perverse heart shall be far from me; I will know nothing of evil.
5 Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly I will destroy. Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart I will not endure.
6 I will look with favor on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; he who walks in the way that is blameless shall minister to me.
7 No one who practices deceit shall dwell in my house; no one who utters lies shall continue before my eyes.
8 Morning by morning I will destroy all the wicked in the land, cutting off all the evildoers from the city of the Lord.