Our family grows an organic garden each summer. Preparing the ground for planting takes an enormous effort. First, we clear the winter growth (read: weeds). Second, we remove rocks – and then more rocks. Third, we till the soil using hand tools. After several weekends of preparation, it finally comes time to plant.
Planting seeds is the easy part: just let them fall one by one and cover them with dirt. Then, sit back and wait – right? Sadly, no. The work has just begun. For starters, those seeds in the dirt need to be watered daily for the first few weeks. Since the garden is in our town’s designated community garden and not in our backyard, we must drive to the garden to water it.
Within just a few weeks, the weeds start popping back up and competing with the emerging seedlings. Lest we forget, this is New England. While folks in the Bible belt are already eating their first crop, our garden is only sprouting. If that! Will we ever get a crop?
By late June, we start thinking: enough of this! It is quite tempting to abandon the whole project. All that work for what seems like nothing. More watering. More fertilizing. More picking weeds. Is all this effort worth it? Let’s just say that any reasonable project analysis would indicate that our investment is way under water. Why do we do this? Let’s just go home, the kids complain.
But then, late July comes around. We return from summer vacation. Overnight, it seems that a whole forest of crops have matured and are ready for the picking. Our neighbors’ gardens out-produce us every year, but thankfully they are generous neighbors. We come home every visit with a trunk full of vegetables – the wimpy ones we grew; and the gigantic ones our neighbors gave us.
We do everything the “right way” according to garden experts and our crop wanes for some unexpected reason. The garden steward informs us of a different diagnosis every year. “You see, we had more rain this year so you needed to add a little bit more fertilizer.” The rules seem to constantly change. Such is life in a garden. It takes a multitude of efforts to see fruit.
Imagine if we only put seeds in the ground. Or only watered once a month. Or never payed attention to the type of weather we’re having. Our measly garden would be even more pitiful. As it is, it takes everything we’ve got just to produce a small crop. Does this sound successful to you? Does it sound fruitful?
Our garden serves as a parable that asks us this question: what multitude of efforts do we employ to share Christ with and care for LGBT+ persons? Are we a church that is exhausted from trying dozens of new ideas to cultivate spiritual identity among those who identify according to sexual orientation? I think we are good at planting seeds of truth – or preaching about homosexuality – but as I said above: planting seeds is the easy part. When this does not seem to work – we often give up. As if truth is the only “effort” we can employ…
Tomorrow, I will begin to discuss an alternative approach – building a foundation upon which spiritual identity can be nourished through a multitude of efforts. This may just impact all of our evangelistic and missional efforts. Join me right here on Lead Them Home.
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