This sermon is much different from the rest as you can tell from the title. Much of what I have written to date deals with re-aligning our beliefs so that they mirror what scripture teaches which is very important but at times it is also important to bring these teachings into everyday life and that is what we want to accomplish here.
In the summer of "08" we were blessed by finding a home to rent outside of town. The place has about two acres with a small shop/barn out back and also included a two car garage and ample space for our family. It gives us enough room to accommodate my construction activities as well as Diana's sewing and beeswax candle business. We are part of the local farmers market south of here in Marietta, Ohio where we are able to sell things that we grow and make and this keeps us very busy. This year were able to plant a large garden and there is such abundance that we are able to meet our own needs as well as sell considerable extra. So this is where the title of this sermon comes from so on with the beans.
Living a simple life typically would include a garden at least for most of us and here in S.E. Ohio just about everything grows quite easiliy including beans. So we have lots of them because they make a good fresh picked item for the farmers market along with the squash, tomatoes, zucchini, corn, pumpkins, cucumbers, beets, melons, peas, peppers, potatoes etc. So this summer after putting in a full day of regular construction work I come home to the blessings of quiet time in the garden.
And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. (Gen 2:15)
It is in this most original of settings that I find that I actually can commune with God and still work and be focused on my task. Picking beans is hard work if your back is prone to getting sore like mine but I find a stillness in my spirit regardless of the pain and inconvenience. I find this is a time that my soul and spirit are refreshed and restored as I work the soil and then later handle the vigorous plants that have produced a bounty of beans. Whether they be green or yellow bush beans or they are climbing pole beans I find the joy of being in touch with the very thing that God created way back in the beginning. My rough hands still feel the tender long lengths of the extra smooth wax beans as I pick them and plunk them into my metal tub as I carefully pull it down the thick rows that I just planted only a two months ago and it is hard not to smile between the hard work involved in picking them.
For I am in the presence of God.
Yes, I am totally, and completely in the presence of God.
Before we moved here and embraced this simple life Satan had far more opportunity to distract us with the concerns of the world even while I tried to live a good Christian life. We still have many of the same challenges but they have been reduced in this busy world by embracing a non materialistic life. We have found that even though we spend far longer hours trying to provide for our needs, typically generating far less income than what most people do, we have found that while we are working hard at the simple things God is there and much easier to commune with. Even though we have much less "free" time we also find we have far less distraction time.
We find that issues of entertainment we used to be engaged in, such as movies and television, have by necessity gone away because we do not have the time even if we wanted to indulge our flesh in them. We find that our marriage is deeper and stronger as Diana and I wander the garden late at night or early in the morning together discussing how God's blessing are all around us. We take pleasure in seeing our young grandson wrinkle up his nose as he makes his "smelling" sound indicating to us he sees a flower he wants to smell. The joy of the simple life, that is one plant away from the hand of God, is seen as Ethyn runs through the garden looking for his grandma to pull a fresh picked bean out of her apron that she has just picked and placed there. And the expressions of delight as he enjoys the sweet flavor of the unpolluted fruit of God.
For many years I longingly looked back to the great joy that I had when I first surrendered my life to the Lord finding that when I examined my life I needed allot of worldly stimulation to just have something similar. Much of this was in the context of good wholesome stimulation such as powerful praise and worship, listening to eloquent and charismatic leaders, tackling a noble cause for justice in society such as political involvement to stop abortions and other atrocities but they never measured up quite to the level of the simple joy that I experience as when I was filled with his redeeming grace. I found that many things contended for this simple joy just as Jesus told us in the parable of the seed.
But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. (Mat 13:20-21)
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. (Mat 13:44)
Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. (John 15:8-11)
Of course it is not just a garden that does it. It was the fact that we chose to sell pretty much everything we could do without and follow his commandments much of which is found in Matthew chapters 5 through 7. It was following his commands that lead us to a simplified lifestyle that put us in a situation that we had to rely heavily on him to meet even some of our daily needs that lead us to planting the garden. It also led us to many other areas of simplifications but this one has had the most profound effect upon us.
Oh the joys of picking beans for they are the avenue to the deepest of joys and pleasures without mans intervention of entertainment that are never fulfilling. God knew what he was doing when he placed man in the garden. And he also knew that that was the best place for mankind to find fellowship with him in the simplest and sincerest way. So before you take to much longer trying to figure out good reasons to stay in a materialistic lifestyle consider the hard work of picking beans and the wonders of being in His presence that is just a bean plant away.
p.s. see you in the garden