We began our preparations for our personal scripture study, family scripture study, and family home evening by reading the resources scheduled for March18-24 in Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families. Our first impression was that it would be too early in Canada to re-enact the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:3-8, 18-23). It will likely be too cold with snow possibly still on the ground.
Then, we thought of a neighbor, Ken Holst, who is well known in our community for not only having a productive garden in his backyard but also supplied 175 starting plants for the 2018 Community Garden. In the past several years, his plants have not just fed hundreds but literally thousands. How he prepares to plant such fertile physical gardens is described in Part 2 of our articles on this theme about sowing, growing, and harvesting a garden.
We started to reflect on the spiritual meanings hiding inside this parable, How can we prepare our hearts and minds to grow in the word of God? The first question that came to our minds were: “What types of soil are we?” The rocky soil would lack materials to nourish the seedlings. It would start to sprout, but it could not root itself in the “deepness of earth” (Matthew 13:5). From a spiritual perspective, it could not endure “tribulation or persecution” (Matthew 13:21).
The weedy soil would have too much growth surrounding a young plantlet. Jesus likened this type of gospel growth to a person who “heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful” (Matthew 13:22). Worldly temptations and the drive to have possessions, wealth, and power would lead this person away from spiritual development.
We would be hopeful that we could be fertile soil that will bear fruit: “some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, and some thirtyfold” (Matthew 13: 8). To increase literal gardening growth, we would experiment with different fertilizing nutrients, sun exposure, and watering techniques.
With respect to spiritual growth, Joseph Smith adds a key insight to what a fruitful hearer of the word needs to do: “The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which understandeth and endureth; which also beareth fruit” (Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 13:21 [in Matthew 13:23, footnote b]). Knowledge and wisdom will come to an individual who meekly endures. As the prophet Alma explained, “Yea, he that truly humbleth himself, and repenteth of his sins, and edureth to the end” (Alma 32:15). Not giving up or losing faith is a key principle to being a faithful, productive gardener.
Strategies for Nurturing Spiritual Growth
In order to cultivate our spiritual growth and receive truth from the Lord, we will continually need to do the following:
Look for gospel truths about Jesus Christ and study His gospel doctrines.
Look for inspiring words and phrases in the scriptures that relate to us personally.
Employ a variety of study strategies: Share object lessons, pick study topics, draw or color pictures, act out a story or parable, and frequently sing hymns or Primary songs.
Listen to the Spirit, paying close attention to our thoughts, feelings, and questions.
Use scripture study helps: the Topical Guide, Bible Dictionary, the Joseph Smith Translation, footnotes, etc.
Study the words of latter-day prophets and leaders, especially those published in Church magazines, addresses given at general conference, and postings on Church websites (www.LDS.org and Canada.lds.org).
Record our impressions and share our insights as we strive to live by what we are learning. (“Ideas to Improve Your Personal Study” and “Ideas to Improve Your Family Scripture Study,” Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families, vii-x)
Each day of the week presents us with new opportunities to learn, grow, and act. To be fertile spiritual gardeners, we will need to be “doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22).
Singing As We Garden
As we ponder and prepare to plant both actual seeds and spiritual seeds, we know that there will be much care and work involved in order to reap a harvest. As we ponder these spring and summer challenges, we can joyfully sing or listen to the following Primary song: “The Prophet Said to Plant a Garden,” (Children’s Songbook, 237):
“The prophet said to plant a garden, so that’s what we’ll do.
For God has given rich brown soil, the rain and sunshine too.
And if we plant the seeds just right and tend them carefully,
Before we know, good things will grow to feed our family.
We’ll plant the seeds to fill our needs, then plant a few to spare,
And show we love our neighbors with the harvest that we share.
Oh, won’t you plant a garden, too, and share the many joys
A garden brings in health and love to happy girls and boys!”