In the late spring, we often plant a garden with rows of squash, zucchini, cucumbers, bell peppers, and zinnias.
Planting day is always lots of fun as we dig in the freshly tilled dirt, trying to get the rows straight and the seeds
deep. Six or eight weeks later our work is rewarded as we enjoy and share our vegetables and flowers (except that
one year when torrential rains washed the entire garden into the cow pasture beyond the fence).
Now, let me be honest. The middle part—the part between the planting and fresh zucchini bread for breakfast—is
work. The garden needs to be watered on dry days, deer have to be redirected away from the peppers, and the weeds must be pulled and pulled and pulled. We have to remind ourselves that this is all part of the growth process; our efforts will be rewarded.
Our garden is a pretty good analogy for sanctification—the growth in holiness that a Christian experiences between
regeneration (being born again) and heaven. Like a plant growing in our garden, sanctification is an ongoing
transformation and renewal in the life of a Christian. Like the work we do in our garden between planting and
harvest, believers need the "water" of God's Word, worship, and fellowship to grow; they must redirect bad
influences; and they are constantly "weeding" by repenting and fighting sin, dying more to sin and living more to
righteousness. And just like gardeners enjoy the reward of the harvest, how much more so the believer whose
reward is eternity in heaven!
Where do we get the power to do this? It is the Holy Spirit who, as J.I. Packer says in Concise Theology, "works in
you to will and act." – Mrs. Speece