Puritans Weren’t Known for Gardening Tools!
We do not remember the Puritans for their gardening tools. Usually we think of them as being cosmic killjoys, afraid someone, somewhere is having a good time. Thank you H. L. Menken.
Having read Worldly Saints by Leland Ryken, I know better.
However, because of a recent encounter with seven of the more well known divines, Puritan that is, I acquired a fresh appreciation for their tools for the problems in their times and ours. They understood how to dig out the root of a heartache, and replace it with something worth cultivating!
Recently we attended a workshop on the applicability of centuries’ old theology to 21st century problems. Granted, it was not the hottest ticket in town – but it reminded me that even I am not so old that I can’t wield a gardening tool or two! According to the Puritan folks, I still have time for pruning and planting, even if I feel like our ice-bound beds look!
Note: Using the right power tool makes the kind of gardening the Puritans dug productive.
How the Seminar Revved Me Up for Gardening!
The speaker, Dr. Mark Deckard, surveyed the writings of seven men who lived through hard times and produced Helpful Truth in Hard Places –The Puritan Practice of Biblical Counseling, introduced a tool sometimes poorly understood, and often misapplied: God’s Providence. It is different from an equally powerful tool, His Sovereignty. These are HIS tools – not mine.
Sovereignty is God’s rule; Providence is His care – in the world and in my life.
Faith is my tool; so is obedience. But just like trowels, rakes and clippers, I have to pick them up and use them. Familiar analogy, granted. Here’s where I am going with the Puritans’ gardening tools:
Retooling My Gardening Tools
My struggles can be like the weeds and barren garden soil; none are accidents or uncontainable. (Mark 9:24) Will I turn over my fears, questions and doubts about what is happening to me, to the Gardener who laid out the boundaries of my life? (Psalm 16)
Years ago, I was all about getting my life cleaned up, weeded, and productive. I’ve been through enough seasons now to see some disappointing harvests, my own primarily. It’s been easy to slide into a why bother mindset.
There isn’t exactly so much time to make right all my wrongs, or make good on all my dreams. Nor, is there time to help myself or other folks out of the unholy holes this generation is normalizing. When life’s weeds are overtaking my garden, it’s not startling God . . . but He’s not going to do my weeding for me.
Dr. Deckard reawakened a bit of gardening spark by posing three questions
he answered in the seminar:
• Why is this happening to me?
• Why am I not content?
• What does sin have to do with my problems?
Asking questions can be tools prodding me to get off my duff and get out of the WHY BOTHER section of my autumn’s garden. Answering them? Well that’s work. And, work is a good purpose for those of whose pulses remain.
We’ll see how all this plays out in coming weeks. I may be on a roll with the Puritan gardening tools and lessons from my garden . . . Who knows how they might apply to painting?
In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt. ~Margaret Atwood
Great article to remind us that God does the work but we must pick up the tools.
Thank you for hearing from God and challenging me to stay focused on the goal.
Great article; wish I had attended the seminar with you!
I think you would have thoroughly enjoyed the survey! There was even a segment devoted to _The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment_ — I remember when we studied that with some friends at SPEP! Throughout all of the sections, I was mindful of Barbara Black, and her coming to terms with her afflictions . . .How desperately she wanted to recover — yet her body did not cooperate. Might their be a lesson for those who so disparately want our bodies to be something different than what they are?
just thinking out loud here.