When situations are out of control, do you remain in control?

What emotions raise their ugly heads during these times — maybe frustration, impatience, anger, and irritability? Do damaging words flow from your mouth?

Often when life becomes difficult to manage we simply throw in the towel. We need some practical ways to let go and let God take control of our lives.

Together, let's look at the gardening process to learn some spiritual life lessons.

The key to a garden’s success lies with the gardener. He is the one who prepares the soil, and plants the garden at just the right time. As the plants begin to grow, he knows the perfect time to fertilize and water. A garden left unattended becomes susceptible to disease, bugs, weeds, mineral deficiencies, and drought.

Before any planting takes place, the gardener must pick a location and prepare the soil. Then after the seeds are planted, the gardener faces the challenges of weed invasion, bug infestation, unpredictable weather, and the appearance of fungus on the growing plants. So much to worry about.

The first step in planting a vegetable garden is to choose the right location. Sunlight is one of the major elements in a garden’s success because plants need a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight, although eight to ten hours will generate even greater results. Also, planting should not be too close to shrubs or trees because their roots might invade the garden space, creating a natural competition for sun, water, and nutrients. Gardeners avoid low spots because they are slow to warm in the spring, frost settles in them in the winter and standing water can cause root rot.

Preparing the soil is essential for proper plant growth. First-time beds need the addition of organic mate- rial when the ground is tilled. To avoid creating large clumps, this should be done when the soil is dry. Humus and manure can be added to enrich the soil. For subsequent seasons, hand tilling is recommended to prevent disruption of earthworm activity.

I remember the first time I planted a garden. I read everything I could on making it a success. Excitement lay deep within my soul as I found the perfect place for my 20-by-20-foot plot and started off on this new adventure. I just knew this ideal location would enable the plants to soak up the right amount of sunlight every day.

I purchased a variety of seeds, including lettuce, spinach, squash, beans, peppers, tomatoes, cantaloupe, and even watermelon. With all the knowledge I obtained before getting started, I could have written my own book called Successful Gardening by Mama Mac.

But, it is amazing how quickly that know-it-all attitude left my mind when I took a big swing with my garden hoe. As it hit the ground, a vibration moved from the end of the hoe all the way up the handle until it reached my hands. I realized my hoe hadn’t penetrated the soil but instead hit rock — yes, the kind that takes a jackhammer to break. But wait, this wasn't been in the gardening books! I knew I needed enough dirt for the plants’ roots to grow, so... what to do?

With the invincible attitude of a woman in her mid-twenties, I had the bright idea to get on my knees and scrape the rocks away with my hands. Needless to say, this plan got me nowhere. Looking back, I realize I was operating under a control syndrome. I wanted my gardening to go as I planned.

In reality, this stumbling block represented my life at the time. When things didn’t go as I desired, I tried to force them to work according to my intentions. Just like the gardening experience, God often placed boulders in my life because He had a better plan.

What about you? How do you handle the boulders that get in the way of your plans? Praise God for what He is teaching through these life situations.


Ask God to show you some areas in your life where you are trying to take control rather than releasing situations to Him. Praise Him for your current location. Ask Him to help you prepare the soil of your soul so He can produce a crop that yields more than you could ever imagine. God has a beautiful garden planned for your life if you will allow Him to be the gardener of your soul.

From My Heart to Yours,

Carla McDougal