My first attempts at gardening several years ago were pretty funny. The bunnies, as much as I love them, kept helping themselves to my tender tomato plants. I’d come out to check my little lovelies, and DRAT! There went another one! So I started to concoct various creative boundaries and kept replanting. I even tried that trick of putting a garden hose around the area so the furry thumpers would think there was a snake lurking about.
It was less than effective, except to amuse Bob, who christened the area my DMZ.
My friend, Louise, has a garden. I mean, a real garden. My garden is more of an adult re-living her childhood of playing in the dirt. Louise and her husband—they actually know what they’re doing.
When they moved in a few years ago, there was no garden, no gardening workshop, just an expansive back yard space and a vision. Now they have this…
If you’ll notice, these are not just green chicken-wire fences (like mine). Oh no, these are electrically charged, power-grided, live-wired, pesky-deer-repelling barriers, the kind that bite any sentient being that foolishly comes too close. And why? Because Louise cherishes what she grows. And so does her husband.
Yes, her lovely homemade berry jam. She and her husband are not about to put all that hard work into such a nice garden only to have deer, as cute as they are, come and destroy her family’s produce. No stinkin’ way. Just try it, and it’s going to hurt. She guards it, jealousy.
Would that we, as the Bride of Jesus, were so inclined:
“Be eager and strive earnestly to guard and keep the harmony and oneness of [and produced by] the Spirit in the binding power of peace.”
Being eager means it’s top priority, more important than my personal agenda and pride (think about THAT one a minute or two!) Striving earnestly indicates observable behaviors, public application to the principle of unity. Guarding indicates more than an amateurish garden hose of religious stuff; it’s a spiritual powerhouse of protection that comes only from personal time with the Lord, securing my own heart from offense first, only then speaking the truth in love, always leaning on the wisdom of God and allowing for no moral compromise within His body.
And keeping, well, that’s like my friend’s delicious berry preserves. When we do the other three, the eagerness, the striving, and the guarding, we are then able to preserve the most beautiful harmony and oneness, the very sweetness that will, indeed, draw others to Christ.
And as Louise’s husband has said, (because, you know, he’s my pastor), when it comes to unity in the body of Christ, we really have to understand how much is at stake—the precious and eternal souls of others.
So, so, so many others.