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Still Good

As a novice gardener I am becoming more and more confident in the garden. The beginning tasks of starting a garden have been replaced with the daily upkeep. Pulling a weed here, or picking a tomato there, we are reaping the rewards of all the hard work my husband and I put into it at the beginning.  Lately, my social media feed has more pictures of my zucchini and cucumber than my kids!  And of course the best part is the satisfaction you get when you sit down to a meal and think as you take your first bite "I grew this."  Well, technically God grew it, but I planted it.  

I already have plans for what I will plant for the fall.  Beans, brussel sprouts (my kids used to call them baby cabbage), beets, radish and carrots.  But something strikes my heart as I begin removing all my exhausted plants, it's a faint whisper but I recognize the voice.  "But, Ursala" the voice says, "these are still good."

Still good, I thought?  What could I possibly use this dead zucchini for? Again I am new to gardening so I did what my teenagers taught me...I google it.  Turns out this dry exhausted zucchini plant was good for something...the compost pile.  

For those of you who don't know, a compost pile is what some gardeners use to fertilize their gardens.  The basic idea is to throw all your scrap veggies, exhausted plants, coffee grounds, some even use cardboard, into a pile and allow them to break down into the soil.  During that time all the nutrients from the plants are released back into the soil, enriching it and making it good soil. In turn, into this good soil you plant new plants.

Of course the google search led me down a rabbit hole, and now I have plans to start our own pile in the backyard.  There are actually some neighbor-friendly ways to do this, so hopefully we won't have any complaints.  As I was researching and planning, I felt like there was a practical lesson in this compost discovery.  I wasn't sure what it was yet, but I knew if I was patient enough the lesson would reveal itself.

Without fail the opportunity arose for God to remind me about our composting lesson. The lesson was about relationships.  It is so easy to throw away relationships after we think there is no fruit left in them.  Life pushes us forward and the people in our past seem unimportant.  But just like that exhausted zucchini plant, maybe those relationships are still good.

 So often we move away or into a new season and cut off old people and experiences to start life "anew, or fresh". Although that sounds good, the only way we truly grow is by learning from our past.   Instead of leaving behind good friendships when we move to a new place or a new job, what if we allow the richness of those relationships to continue to contribute to our soil?  

Staying connected to those people and pulling from those experiences does not stop us from growing new fruit in our lives.  If we take our lesson from the compost pile we learn that they can actually help us to grow new fruit.  In my life I have experienced both.  I have had friends who moved across the country, or even the world, and still stay in touch.  We continue to make an effort to see or speak to each other from time to time. I have also had friends move away without even a goodbye.  As painful as a goodbye can be, I have always been thankful for the opportunity to wish a friend well in their future endeavors.

Recently, I learned that a dear friend was moving out of state.  At her request, a journal was passed around to her closest friends.  Along with the journal came a few directions.  First, she wanted us to recount a story or a special time shared with her.  Then, she also requested that we put in a prayer request so that, even though we would be separated by space and time, she could be praying for us.  

There is something special about knowing that thousands of miles away there is a dear friend praying for you and your family; that someone is fighting for you when you don't have the strength or wherewithal to fight for yourself. Still good means that even when we can't see it, God is still using his good to nourish our souls.  

We see this principle throughout the new testament.  As Paul journeyed from region to region he did not forget the friendships that he left behind.  In letter after letter we see Paul reaching out to the dear friends that he made along the way.  In doing so he built the network of faith communities that we now know as the early church, and wrote a large portion of what we read in the New Testament of the Bible.

Of course we can apply this same principle to many areas of our lives.  Consider a marriage that doesn't seem to have anything left or maybe a parent child relationship that has been strained. Sometimes it is our nature to just walk away, especially when there is pain involved.  But many times, if we are patient, God will reveal the good and give us new strength to endure in the hard times.

  • Still good, means that there is still so much to give even if you don't see it.  
  • Still good means that regardless of our future, our past is what grounds us.  
  • Still good means that we can build people up just by being part of their lives.

Is there a relationship that you believe is still good?  Maybe this is God's way of encouraging you to send a text or a letter to an old friend.  You reaching out could be the encouragement they need to get through a rough time in their life.  Maybe a phone call will help you rediscover the good from the past seasons in your life.

Returning to my garden this fall will mean something different to me. As I prepare my root vegetables to go into the ground, I will be thinking about the good from last season's crop.  Also, as I build new friendships this season, I will not forget the nutrients that previous friendships have left behind.  My prayer is that in this new season you will find that your soil has been enriched by others as well.

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