We have several fruit trees in our backyard and recently I've noticed a few things: leaves on the grapefruit tree are curling and it appears to be have some type of disease or infestation; the plum tree looks brittle; and my favorite lemon tree is dying. We acquired these trees (and more) when we moved into our home 22 years ago. In fact, one thing I'd pray for was to have a lemon tree in our yard.
Fast forward to 2015. Here in California we're experiencing a drought and we've had to get serious about conservation. We're on a strict watering schedule imposed by the county and we've tried to cut down our water usage drastically.
Although I'm anything but a gardener, it's been difficult for me to watch my roses' blooms wither and the fruit on our lemon tree look sickly. I've heard from other gardeners that roses and fruit trees often need a deep soaking. Here's what one gardening site says:
When watering roses, you'll want to do deep watering, so your roses develop deep roots.
Not only will this anchor the plants in place, but a deep-growing root system will help the plants survive a drought.
Citrus trees prefer deep watering sessions compared to shallow and frequent watering. Each time you water a mature tree, the soil should be moist down 36 inches.
I attempted a deep watering but discovered quickly that the soil around the base of the lemon tree was so hardened that the water ran off, providing little hydration. The roses fared better due to the mulch surrounding each rose bush. When I first planted my rose bushes, I was told to surround them with mulch, but I didn't know all the benefits. Here's what I learned:
Mulch does a number of wonderful things for your rose bushes. It can help deter weeds, prevent moisture loss, cool the soil structure on hot summer days and, as it decomposes, provide nutrients to the soil beneath.
You are probably wondering by now, what this has to do with the title of this blog! My closest friends know that I am an "experiential learner." God often speaks to me through experiences. He seemed to be saying to me that I was a lot like my lemon tree--the soil in my heart was hardened and the fruit of my life was drying up. I wasn't immediately sure what was causing this condition, but I knew this was accurate. It especially hit home with me when I was trying to "soak" the lemon tree and the soil couldn't absorb it. I was reminded of the scripture in Ephesians about the "washing of water by the Word." Even though I was reading my Bible most days, I was not "soaking it in." I was reading the Word, but not taking the time to allow the Word to "read me." I spent little time meditating on what I read and no time asking the Spirit to "read into my heart and motives." I was checking Bible reading off my list.
What I soon discovered after soaking the rose bushes is that the blooms looked healthier and were more numerous than before. When I read about the benefits of mulch, the Spirit seemed to underscore the lesson. It struck me that mulch seems to work in soil much like the Spirit of God works within our hearts. If we have trusted in Jesus, the Spirit lives inside of us. But, the Spirit is the third Person of the Trinity, and as a Person (not a force or an "it") He desires an interactive relationship.
So what was the lesson of the lemon tree and the rose bushes for me? Two things became clear: I needed a "deep soaking" in God's Word. I needed to spend time meditating, listening, interacting with the text, asking God's Spirit to speak into my heart and expose any hardened places; I also needed to confess some areas of pride, self-righteousness, judgment, envy, and some other "weeds" I had allowed to creep into my heart affecting my "fruitfulness."
Maybe you can relate. How's the soil of your heart? What kind of fruit are you bearing? Are you in need of a "deep soaking?" Take a few minutes some time today and ask the Spirit of God to help you take a "heart condition" inventory. He is always a willing participant. We simply need to ask.