The spiritual life is similar to that of a garden. It begins as just ordinary ground left to natural forces. That includes weeds, drought, insects, and other influences that seem to dominate it. But then comes a gardener. The purpose of the soil is changed and as the purpose changes specific preparations are needed.
The gardener tills the soils, pulls the weeds, adds the fertilizer, provides water, and plants the seeds. The gardener continues to tend to the soil, but the gardener can’t make the seed grow into a plant. That’s the role of nature. Science calls this process photosynthesis. It’s the process between the seed, the sun, and a part of the plant called chlorophyll. The gardener hopes for the best, but there is only so much he can do. He prepares but “God brings the increase.” It is in the midst of this God appointed natural order that the growth will come.
It is similar in the Christian life. There is a role that we play to prepare the seed of our hearts. We use different methods from scripture to prepare our hearts, but lasting heart change will only come through Jesus Christ. You could call it spiritual photosynthesis. As we begin to see our need and God’s methods we will begin to take practical steps to prepare our hearts for the work of the Holy Spirit to change our hearts as God makes us into the men and women He intended us to be.
In scripture God has given us many ways of preparing the soil of our hearts so that it will be ready to be changed by the transforming power of Christ. In submission, faith, and obedience we prepare ourselves through renewing our minds, studying His Word, confessing our sins, living in community, making no provision of sin, fasting, etc. And we wait. . . for the spiritual “photosynthesis" of God. In utter dependence we wait trusting that as we do what God has said we will experience what God has promised . . . that we will be made like Christ.
Don't be misled. Our efforts will never be enough to change our own hearts, but as we submit to God's methods we will be ushered to a point in our lives where we are ready for the workings of God. Then the Spirit will work to bring about the transformation. And this will make all the difference.
Here are just a few of ways that scripture teaches us to prepare the soil of our hearts. Look through this list and be open to what the Holy Spirit may be wanting you to add to your normal way of life.
Discipline the body
Observe the Sabbath
Live in the Light / Accountability
Setting new Habits
Confession / Repentance
Daily Exposure to God’s Word
Experiencing Biblical Community
Sharing Christ with others
Guarding your heart