I once had a garden. Well, you could loosely call it that.
I’d had this romantic notion about how good it would be to get out in the fresh air and get my hands dirty, get back to the earth, and all that kind of stuff. I could picture how good it would feel to pluck bulging tomatoes and harvest basketball-sized green peppers and enter a 200 pound pumpkin in the state fair.
I was partially inspired by my next-door neighbor, Steve. Steve loved his garden. He was in it every evening puttsing around, weeding, watering, pruning, plucking. Steve simply loved being in the garden and working hard at it.
Though I had a romantic notion of a garden in my mind, there was just one problem. I didn’t want to work.
After I plowed the initial space, put down plastic and planted the original plants, I had no desire to be out there. I got no joy from plucking the suckers to make the plants stronger. I didn’t want to weed. It was even tiresome for me to water the garden in the evenings. It wasn’t like the garden was huge, I just wasn’t into it. I didn’t want to work at it.
Steve’s garden and my garden were separated by about 20 feet. Yet at the end of the summer there was a huge difference in our gardens. Steve’s was neat and laden with rich ripe vegetables. My garden was weed-infested and anemic looking.
I did have a pumpkin vine that was about 240 feet long and took up about half of my backyard, at the end of which was one lone pumpkin the size of a softball.
What was the difference between our gardens? They both got the same amount of sunshine and rain. But Steve worked away at it every day. Little by little, one day at a time. Steve applied himself faithfully to his garden, whereas I didn’t. After my initial efforts I expected the garden to produce all by itself with no effort on my part.
So what was the difference? Diligence.
It’s the same with our faith. If we want to have strong faith healthy face, we must be diligent.
“Would you like to possess more faith? Do you find believing so pleasant, that you would like to believe more? Then take heed that you are diligent in the use of every means of grace—diligent in your private communion with God—diligent in your daily watchfulness over time, temper, and tongue—diligent in your private Bible reading—diligent in your own private prayers. It is vain to expect spiritual prosperity, when we are careless about these things. Let those who will, call it excessively precise and legal to be particular about these things. I only reply, that there never was an eminent saint who neglected them.” – J.C. Ryle via Erik Kowalter
“Do not neglect the means which the Spirit has appointed for help. Pray, meditate, hear, read, do your best, and expect his blessing. Though your ploughing and sowing will not give a harvest without the sun, and rain, and the blessing of God, yet the sun and rain will not bring a crop unless you plough and plant.” – Richard Baxter
Over the years, I’ve observed that the believers who do the best in trials, who seem to have mighty faith, are those who have been diligent to cultivate faith. They’ve sown, watered and weeded. Plodded and plowed. Day by day. Little by little, consistently reading Bibles and books, praying, meeting together with the saints.
Excuse me, I have to go to the store now to buy some vegetables.