growing basil

I’m a hopeless gardener. My horticultural efforts usually end up like this:

or this:

So I hope you’ll share my joy that recently I’ve managed to do this:

For the last MONTH (yes, that’s right – 30 whole days) I’ve managed to keep this basil plant alive. I’ve even used the leaves in recipes and the plant has grown back. Wow.

I think there are a few reasons for this unexpected success. Firstly, Basil sits right in front of the kitchen sink. I go to this sink 50, perhaps 100, times in a day. So Basil gets a lot of attention. Secondly, I’ve followed advice and watered the roots as well as the surface of the soil.

But the main reason I think Basil has survived is this. Take a closer look at his leaves:

Whilst you couldn’t deny Basil’s a healthy plant, do you see how the leaves look just a little bit sad? Slightly shrivelled? Just a bit droopy? The fact that Basil is always on the cusp of plant-heaven has motivated me to water him the right amount, to turn his leaves so he gets the most sunlight, and to move him to a larger pot when the time was right.

As I’ve looked at Basil over the past weeks, I’ve been pondering how my life is similar. Just as Basil is a little bit sad, I am (more often than not) a little bit tired, a little bit grumpy, a little bit rushed, a little bit behind on life. I’m on the cusp, not of physical death, but of spiritual death.

It’s no secret that I’m awful at any sort of spiritual discipline. Every day I have an inner battle with my lazy self. The result is an open Bible, or a closed Bible – a moment of prayer, or a moment of indulging in more practical tasks – a moment of listening, or just another Facebook check. The other day I tried to imagine what it would be like if I made the right choice each day – if I was one of those people I admire who prioritise time with God each day. BUT – and here’s the reaction I wasn’t expecting – I feared I might then become complacent. I feared that I would believe myself to have ‘made it’ as a Christian. I feared I would not notice the many other faults and failings of my week, but merely be pleased, on a legalistic level, that I’d managed all seven quiet times.

I think the apostle Paul had this sort of daily battle going on, when he wrote “there was given me a thorn in my flesh..to torment me” (2 Corinthians 12:7). I’m so encouraged by how he goes on to say “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But…I delight in weaknesses…for when I am weak, then I am strong” (vv.8-10).

So, like Basil and Paul, I pray that I might keep going. I pray that every day I might win the battle over laziness. And I pray that God’s grace, strength and fruitfulness will be displayed through my weary, distracted, havoc-ridden life.

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3 Replies to “growing basil”

  1. Great blog. Particularly poignant as I failed at keeping mine alive… Rip basil 2012

    Actually definitely spoke to me today about where I am at. I am basil!

    Nice one

    1. Thanks for finding the blog and thanks for the encouragement Ricky! I think we all have our basil moments but hopefully it’s reassuring to know we’re not alone and that often when we’re weakest is the time when we rely on God’s strength more.

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