There is a row of rag-tag "pots" lining the porch, containing what my husband calls my "ten year tree plan."
I use the term "pots" loosely because, well, they're really industrial-sized aluminum cans that once held excessive amounts of green beans. Because we work at a Bible Camp.
I've talked about my little trees here, before (when they sprouted and also a week later when they grew little leaves), and then I really didn't say much else.
My venture into tree growing isn't really that much of a story to tell, actually.
I decided that I wanted some fruit trees around our little acreage. So when my in-laws gave us apples from their trees, I kept several seeds. We got a couple pears from the grocery store, and I kept a couple seeds from those, too.
The seeds, folded into a wet paper towel, spent the winter in our fridge in zip-lock baggies until they started to sprout.. and then I planted them in a little potting soil. Someday soon, we'll plant them in the ground around our place, and hopefully, they'll grow.
It's not a ground-breaking story. But my little ten year tree plan reminds me of something about myself:
I am stubborn.
See, I have this streak of stubborn independence. I like doing things myself.
I made my own wedding bouquet out of coffee filters. We refinished the hardwood floors in our house. I did a total blog redesign on my own. I'm growing fruit trees from seed.
Why buy it or pay for it? I'd rather just do it myself.
There's something about pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, learning a new skill, accomplishing it without paying anyone to help. It feels good. (And yes, the saving money feels good, too).
Our acreage was homesteaded by a family who raised chickens, cattle, hogs. Like so many other pioneers on whom the backbone of America was built, they gardened and farmed and fixed what was broken. They fed themselves, clothed themselves, built their own shelters.
I want to do that.
I want to have a big huge garden and learn how to can. I want chickens and maybe meat rabbits, and possibly a milk cow. I want to quilt, learn how to make my own clothes, bake bread... and I know that the only thing stopping me in this season of life is simply a lack of time.
Those are all good things. Stick-to-it-iveness and a DIY spirit are good qualities in practical matters and around my little farm. The ability to see a need or a problem and then know how to fix it or know how to learn to do it-- it's important.
But when it comes to matters of the spirit, that stubborn streak gets in my way.
Christianity is not a DIY project.
There is no amount of effort, time, or pulling up by my bootstraps that will make me perfect. I cannot transform myself. Unlike building a table or planting a garden, there isn't a check list to follow or a blueprint that will make me like my Jesus. I can't train or learn or push myself into the Kingdom of God.
Which, honestly, is kind of annoying.
I like my plans and my check lists. Teach me how, and I can do it. But the Bible says,
"Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved." - Ephesians 2:3b-5 (emphasis added)
Basically, before Christ, I was dead.
I couldn't do anything myself. Plain old stubbornness couldn't get my dead self into a standing position- I definitely couldn't do anything for the Kingdom or for my own soul. Without Jesus, I can't do a darned thing. All the checklists in the world won't help me if God hadn't made me alive with Christ.
Relying on myself brings me into the trap of suffocating, impossible legalism. I can't be perfect, no matter how hard I try-- and trust me, I've tried. It's pretty terrible.
Trying to work out my own salvation is a heavy load on my shoulders- but Jesus's yoke is light.
Until I recognize the helplessness of my own situation, I can't really depend on the One who is my Help.
It's the paradox of Christianity. Losing my life to find it. Giving up to gain it all.
I can be just as stubborn as I'd like when it comes to fruit frees and home remodeling. I can DIY some picture frames or a light fixture or my own food.
When it comes to the things eternal, though, or living out a life that's good here on earth? For that, I need more than just me. I can't do it on my own-- not even close.
To enter the Kingdom of God, my stubborn independence has to take a back seat to my utter and complete dependence on God alone.
DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging habit, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. You may see a full disclosure by clicking on my "About" page. I will only promote products that I use, enjoy, or take a shine to. All opinions and reviews are my own and are not influenced by any compensation I may receive.