Staring into my unproductive garden made me recall one of those stories in the Bible, when Jesus was talking about the Kingdom of God. He compared the Kingdom to seeds being sown, and that the places where the seed was sown (pavement, thorny bush, good soil) affected the way the seed grew. And then, as if struck by inspiration, I realized that the metaphor should not stop there; each element in gardening plays a vital role in making a plant grow--and each element can be associated to one's faith. So humor me if you will, as I present to you:
Seedlings of Faith: The Garden of Ideals
Picture Faith (AKA morals, values, or principles) as a seed: unassuming, yet filled with potential. Left alone it stays dormant, but once nurtured it is able to bring forth new life and bountiful harvest.
He who plants the seed is Influence. Influence is the spark that starts Faith's growth, and is responsible for providing the proper nourishment for Faith to mature. Influence should plant deep to protect Faith from the elements that may prevent the seed to sprout. Good Influence is patient, constant, and intuitive. Bad Influence is temperamental, fickle, and stubborn. Faith that is nurtured by Good Influence will reach maturity at the optimal time, while Faith that is controlled by Bad Influence may wither and die.
The elements--sunlight, wind, rain, and the changing seasons--represent Circumstance. In itself, Circumstance is neither good nor bad, but it is strong enough to destroy a Faith left unguided. Influence has no power over Circumstance; it must learn to use Circumstance to its advantage. Faith must learn to harden itself to Circumstance as it grows, exposing itself bit by bit until it is able to withstand even the harshest of the elements. A properly hardened Faith is not intolerant, rather it knows how to adapt to the changing environment without compromising its integrity.
Faith cannot bear fruit unless it matures, and it is only through time that Faith can properly reach maturity. Through time and proper Influence, Faith will be able to grow strong, no matter how harsh the Circumstance. Ultimately, Faith's survival lies in its ability to balance pampering nurture and unforgiving nature.
Hey wait--we're talking about Faith, so where is God in all this?
The answer is simple: God is everywhere. God can be found in the abstract concept of Faith, driving you to grow and to bear fruit. God can be found in the critical power of Influence, enabling you discern what is right from what is wrong. God can be found in the weathering force of Circumstance, challenging you to rise above all the obstacles presented to you. God is everywhere and He is everything.
God is the Garden.