Tend Your Garden

By Grace Trent

“What does that part mean?” Lyndie asked, placing her finished cup of tea on the coffee table amidst colored pencils and Hotwheels. I glanced at my own mug, which was growing cold just past the reach of my free arm as I sat nursing my newborn. Adjusting the bible balanced precariously on one knee, I took another look at Psalm 16.
“What’s your best guess?”
“‘The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places…’ Is that talking about where we are? That wherever we are, it’s good?”

For me, it’s easier to acknowledge that God held the pencil with which the borders of my life were drawn and harder to trust, as Psalm 16 reminds me, that within those boundaries he has created a pleasant place— a garden in which I am to live, work, and praise.

As Richard Louv said, “Love the land you’re in.”

But in my garden right now, there is a two-year-old who insists on ‘helping’ unload the groceries. In his mind this includes removing each egg from the carton and individually carrying them to the refrigerator— which takes two hands for him to open. You can imagine the rest.

In my garden, some part of me is usually covered in bodily fluid— and it’s almost never mine.

In my garden, we read the same book 27 times a day; sleep and showers are fleeting; explosive tantrums come without warning.

It’s easy to glance over the fence at someone else’s ‘lines’ and think their garden looks more pleasant, more fulfilling, and more fruitful than the ground beneath my own two feet.

This is where the Lord whispers to my weary, discontent heart:
“Tend your garden.”

The summer before I had my firstborn, I was praying through scripture looking for a promise to claim over my motherhood. The Lord spoke to me through Ezekiel 36:8-11 that I would be tilled and sown like a mountain garden to become a place of fruitful growth for others.

This past summer, as I was preparing for the birth of my second child, the Lord spoke to me again on this idea of keeping a garden.

In the account of creation, after placing man and woman in a garden, the Lord gives two imperatives related to the earth. In Genesis 1:28 he says, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.” And in Genesis 2:15 we are told, “The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.”

What I see there is a focused investment for a far-reaching vision. God did not command Adam and Eve to work and keep the entire earth— just this garden— and yet the command to be fruitful and fill the whole earth remains. Indeed, its echos ring throughout all of scripture.

I sometimes look around and feel that I should be doing bigger, more significant, more urgent work. But God isn’t calling me to tend to everything. He has drawn the borders of my life and given me a garden in which I am to work. This is the land he has entrusted to me: these children, this church family, these opportunities to serve, this one sophomore who comes over for 1-to-1s during nap time.

As Elisabeth Elliot said, “Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God’s way. In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness.”

And I can prayerfully trust that the Lord will use my faithfulness here, in this seemingly small stewardship, to help bring to fruition his far-reaching vision: an earth that is full of the glory of God.

The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance!
Psalm 16:5-6

Grace Trent grew up in Ames, Iowa, and studied Communication and French at the University of Northern Iowa. She met her husband, Aaron, at Jax STP when he was on staff and she was a student leader (scandal!). They bonded over a mutual love of Jesus, soccer, Harry Potter, and corndogs—the stuff of fairytales, right? They gratefully received Jim Luebe’s written permission to date halfway through Grace’s junior year and were married 17 months later. They like to joke that their relationship is officially endorsed by the Navigators. The Trents now live in Lawrence, Kansas and direct the Navs at KU. Grace is passionate about discipleship, art, essential oils, tea, literature, hospitality, and being “Mama” to her 6-month-old daughter, Margot, her 2 1/2-year-old son, Shepard, and an inordinate number of houseplants.

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