When I was a child, our family had a garden about a half acre in size. It doesn’t sound like much for a yard maybe; but as a garden – it was huge. Besides providing our family with year around practically free fruits and vegetables, that garden taught us a lot of lessons about work, life and even faith.
You don’t have to have any yard to grow a garden. Life in New York City taught me about container and patio gardens. Really all you need is some dirt, some seeds or starter plants and an outdoor space. Let your children help plan the garden and buy the supplies. Their participation in the planting and care of the plants and seeds is crucial if you want to use the garden to teach your children some faith lessons.
The actual plants you use is not really important. You could have some extra fun trying to grow plants mentioned in the Bible, but any plants that produce food will work. There are several possible faith lessons you can teach your children with your garden, but here are a few of my favorites:
- As you plant and care for your garden, discuss what the plants need in order to be healthy. What would happen if they never got any sun or water or if the soil didn’t have enough nutrients in it? You may even want to take a plant or two and deny it one of the essential ingredients for growth to make the lesson even more visual and impactful. Our faith is like those plants. If we do not pray or study God’s Words or fellowship with other Christians, we are denying our souls the spiritual nutrients it needs to grow and thrive. Talk about what happens to our spiritual health if we stop praying or reading the Bible. Can neglecting even one area of spiritual health begin to hurt our faith?
- Read the parable of the soils found in Matthew 13. Try finding or creating similar soils for your plants. Do you get similar results to those mentioned in the parable? (Note: Other conditions like water and sunlight can skew your results and make them inaccurate.) How does what happen reflect what Jesus was discussing with God’s Words and the hearts of people? Can your children think of specific things which might create each type of soil in someone’s heart?
- Also in Matthew 13, read the parable of the weeds. Unfortunately for most of us, we don’t have to wait for someone evil to plant weeds – our soil and/or birds will do it for us. Allow the weeds to take over a part of a row of your garden. Do the plants with no weeds produce more than the plants with lots of weeds? Why? What weeds do people allow in their lives that would keep God’s Word from having its full effect on us?
- Another fun one you may have to tweak for growing seasons is also found in Matthew 13. Find the smallest seed in your area that will grow to the largest plant within your growing season. Your local nursery can provide some suggestions. Show your children mustard seeds (check the spice rack in your grocery – note these will not grow if planted) and find out how large the plants grew. Then plant your tiny seeds and see how large they get. What lessons does that teach us about faith and God’s ability to do something with whatever faith we have?
Spring is coming soon, so pull out those seed catalogs with your kids or visit a local nursery. Plan your garden spot and read some scriptures as you do. Over the growing season, reflect on the lessons on faith your garden can teach you and your children. As an added bonus, you will have some fresh produce fro your meals.