Over the past year, I have begun to learn how to grow food in my garden. There are many life lessons, many right out of the Bible, that I have had reinforced in the process of gardening. For example, when Jesus told the parable of the wheat and the tares, and cautioned about pulling weeds prematurely, He was warning about making snap judgments about which people were “in” or “not in” the Kingdom. It takes time in a garden to see the difference between the good plants and the weeds. The same is true for those in your family. Once mature, weeds are easy to recognize and then handle. Likewise, we need time to allow the fruit to appear in a person’s life before we regard that person as a productive addition to our lives or as a weed that will suck the life out of us.
Another garden lesson has to do with over-watering plants. It seems strange that one can give too much of a good thing, but over-watering can be deadly to plants. Plants do well when they have to struggle a bit in order to get the moisture they need. This causes their roots to grow deeper and results in better stability and a better yield. Similarly, if you deprive your children of the opportunity to struggle a bit when it comes to learning a new skill or achieving a milestone in life, they become less able as they mature to weather increasingly difficult situations.
I remember when each of my children were at the stage where they were ready to crawl. Often they would whine about the toy or object that was just out of reach. At times, it would have been easier to grab what they wanted and hand it to them. However, that would have deprived them of the struggle needed to acquire the new skill of crawling. So, I would place them on their tummy, lying next to them, putting the toy just out of reach. I would then give them a rousing pep talk, letting them know that I knew they could achieve this new goal. If it turned out that I had misjudged their capability, while they were looking elsewhere, I would move the object within reach and congratulate them for a job well done when they grasped it. The praise spurred a greater drive. I would then put the toy just out of reach again, and act as their cheerleader until they got what they were after. As they got older, I adapted this technique to challenge them in areas where they were sure they could not succeed. Not only did the struggle produce persons who could perform something new and valuable for themselves and our family, it gave them practice at tenacity and perseverance—attributes that accompany success in life.
In the attempt to spare our children the hardships, headaches, and heartaches of life, it is tempting to make a habit of intervening to solve the problems they encounter. As life becomes more complex and difficult, they need to learn how to rely on Christ and the law-word of God to help them through the trying situations and important decisions they will face. Even if a person knows the right thing to do, the struggles of life serve to demonstrate where true loyalties lie. We want to make sure that we do not deprive others the opportunity to call upon the Name of the Lord when they struggle. These very real life experiences help develop an attitude and practice of obedience to and reliance on Christ. In the end, they will have built the muscle of faith that will root them firmly in their Kingdom service until the day that they stand face-to-face with their Creator and Savior.