I stroll over the weathered boards of our deck. I survey the weed invasion that marches across the backyard. Shrubs and trees relax their roots as they recline across the deck’s chipped exterior. Branch-like arms stretch wildly over white picket fences. All shapes, sizes, and colors… taking on the appearance of uneven chaos.
My eyebrows scrunch as I think, “The shrubs need to be cut back. They are so overgrown.” Their imperfections are desperately crying out for some good pruning shears to snap them back into shape.
I am struck at how quickly they’ve grown over the years. When my husband and I planted them, we hoped for growth but never expected perfection. We didn’t get perfection either… and that’s okay.
Now, as I gaze over the untidy mess in the yard, I am reminded of God’s love for us. He loves even when our limbs need to be yanked back into action. He loves even when we’re a little droopy and bent out of shape. He loves even the most unruly messes.
God doesn’t want us wasting time striving for perfection, because he knows disappointment will forever be on the horizon. For God so loved us, despite our imperfection and our hopeless state of sin ~ that he sent his Son ~to live a life he knew we could never live.
The Message paraphrases 1 Corinthians 3:7 in this way:
It's not the one who plants or the one who waters who is at the center of this process but God, who makes things grow. Planting and watering are menial servant jobs at minimum wages. What makes them worth doing is the God we are serving. You happen to be God's field in which we are working.
Just like the overgrown shrubs in the backyard, God doesn’t require a perfectly pruned exterior to make his creation look good. There is no room in His will for our faint-less efforts to be perfect in an imperfect world. Jesus already took care of that.
That’s the beauty of the Gospel.
So, his goal for us in this weedy, mixed up world …
…is the growth.
More of Him and less of us.