Landscaping soil and eternal significance

I was walking in our neighborhood one morning recently when I came across this trailer parked at the curb and filled with what seems to be landscaping soil.

Now, I know next to nothing about horticulture. I can’t tell a hydrangea from a hibiscus. However, this appeared to me to be the kind of soil a landscaper uses to create beds for plants and flowers. Either this load of soil will be dispersed at several homes, or this particular homeowner has a great deal of horticulture to do. 

Either way, it seemed clear that the soil would soon be transformed from its pristine condition atop the trailer to its intended purpose. It would be shoveled, spread, raked, and leveled. Holes would then be dug into it and plants, shrubs, or flowers placed therein. Their roots would then burrow deeply into the soil and draw nutrients from it to the detriment of the soil. Over time, the soil would itself dissolve into the ground or be washed away and replaced in future seasons with new soil. 

If I were the soil in question, none of this would be appealing to me. To be treated in such a harsh fashion would seem both unkind and unfair. But such soil exists as a means to the end of growing the plants that the landscaper intends. 

Two conclusions follow. 

One: We live our best lives when we surrender to our Lord’s purposes for us. 

Like clay in the hand of a potter (Jeremiah 18), you and I find our highest use when we submit to the Gardener who brings “much fruit” through us (John 15:1–8). He knows us better than we know ourselves and knows where we can best serve his kingdom’s advance. 

Oswald Chambers claimed: “We have no right to judge where we should be put, or to have preconceived notions as to what God is fitting us for. God engineers everything; wherever he puts us, our one great aim is to pour out a whole-hearted devotion to him in that particular work.” 

Then he quoted Ecclesiastes 9:10: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might.” 

Two: God measures success by obedience. 

The casual visitor notices the flowers, plants, and shrubs in a person’s lawn, but the landscaper knows that none of these would thrive without the unnoticed soil that feeds and sustains them. In the same way, God knows all the ways he is using our faithful obedience to advance his kingdom in the world. Even if others take little notice of us, our Father sees all and rewards our sacrificial devotion. 

What John the Baptist said of Jesus should be our mantra as well: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). 

Here’s the difference between the landscaping soil that provoked this blog and our lives: God uses our humble service in ways that we may not fully understand on this side of heaven (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:12). I often say that we cannot measure the eternal significance of present faithfulness. Oswald Chambers noted that a river touches shores the source never sees. 

C. T. Shedd was right: 

Only one life,
’twill soon be past.
Only what’s done for Christ
will last. 

Will your legacy today outlive your day? 

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