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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.



My compost bin is having way too much fun.

It is, after all, just supposed to be a digester of my kitchen scraps.  But it has gotten in its head that it is more than that.  It thinks it’s a garden.  Cheeky plastic!

Actually, I am to blame.  I didn’t stir the contents enough, giving last year’s Halloween pumpkins an opportunity to take root and grow toward the light, reaching out into the sun and rain through an air vent on the side of its prison.

It’s a pleasant surprise, though.  It feels like an unexpected gift: free pumpkins for the fall.

This overflowing vine reminds me of a time Jesus spoke of his purpose on earth:

            “I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly.”  (John 10:10)

Sometimes, I wonder if I think of myself too much as a receptacle.  I act as if my role is a consumer: he pours into me all his blessings which I use to fuel my enjoyment of life.  It’s a subtle misinterpretation, for we are certainly meant to enjoy his gifts.  But as in the composter, that enriching process is ultimately intended for other soils.

Paul spells this out:

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (2 Cor. 9:8)

The blessings God pours into my life, through Jesus, are meant to overflow.  They’re not just for me.  That holds true for material blessing.  (In this passage, Paul is instructing about monetary giving.). But it’s just as true for spiritual benefits.  Though it enhances my life, the fruit of the Spirit that grows in me isn’t meant for private enjoyment.

It’s meant for others.

Some years ago, I visualized this.  Long before my errant pumpkins, I was gripped by this thought of an organic, living thing growing out of something meant to contain it.  I meant for this to be a picture of the church in both regards.  The living, growing organism of God’s people is often inhibited by the organization we put around it.

I won’t elaborate on this, since I recently wrote about how custom inhibits change.  But I’ve seen the Composter Confusion at work so often in churches: forgetting that our consumption of blessing is ultimate not meant for us.

But I can’t change that.  My job today is to recognize my own misappropriation of spiritual funds.  I need to see how my own habits and attitudes are holding back the spreading of that abundant life Jesus gives.

The Spirit shouldn’t have to squeeze through the side vent to bring that blessing to others.

Lord, forgive us for the times we keep your blessings to ourselves.  When we fail to transport your goodness to us to the garden around us.  Use us today to enrich the lives of others.

Reader: What’s the most unexpected thing that grew in your garden?  Tell me about it through This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Bruce Van Patter

As a freelance illustrator, graphic recorder, and author, Bruce is on a lifelong journey to delight in the handiwork of the Creator. And he’s always ready for fellow travelers.

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