Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Last fall, I saw a lady friend post a photo of their garden through my Instagram feed. She mentioned that the method of gardening that they were using was the “Back To Eden Method.” I had never heard of this before but she raved about it and told me that it was a free film available online for anyone to watch. The film features a man named, Paul Gautschi, and he is a man of faith with a strong connection to God. He lives his days on 5 acres in the Pacific Northwest in Washington and God has given him much wisdom. He is renowned for what I call his, “Garden Evangelism,” and people all over the world are blown away when they visit his garden.
“Now wait a minute,” you might be thinking, “This seems like an advertisement.” On the contrary friends, and I will explain why.
We have a family of 8, ranging from ages 17 down to 14 months, and gardening has been on our to-do list for 7 years. However, with a tiny budget & plenty of personal labour, our focus has been on renovating the home we bought in 2012…a home that needed, let’s say, “A lot of attention,” to be livable.
It took us 5 years to complete the huge undertaking that it was, and we thought many times that it would have been better to knock the house down, and start from scratch. When you renovate and live in the mess at the same time, it is not easy.
But we prayed our way through and, in God’s mercy, he gave us creative ideas, ways to save time and money, and he even gave us resources that were either very inexpensive or free. We completed all of the work ourselves, kiddo’s included, and it was a good experience for everyone. What would have been a $100,000 renovation with materials & labor, ended up costing us a quarter of that figure. Our house renovation wasn’t just a renovation of the home, but ultimately ended up being a renovation of our spiritual well-being as we saw God’s power, graciousness and trials he allowed throughout.
As we finished up our home during the fall of 2016, we began to think of gardens. We have a 0.28 acre property and our house is situated on the peak of a small hill with an amazing 180 degree view of the lake. Like the house (with it’s huge potential), we knew there was great potential to feed our family, and try to live a more sustainable life on the small parcel of land that we owned. Our goal was to work towards not relying so much on the outside world but relying on God and his provisions; to be very intentional about the way we live.
So, we dreamed of gardens, but we also thought of the work that came along with traditional gardening. Having your front and backyard as a hill, would make it more difficult to have gardens (we would need to tier it), and the tilling, the weeding, etc…would we be able to keep up?
It was at this time, we watched the film and completely (shall I say) nerded out with respect to the whole method, and the way Paul spoke about his connection with Jesus. This film changed my life, our life. Not just from a gardening perspective but, more importantly, from a more personal spiritual connection with Jesus and that is what I want to focus on because the concept that I learned really is simple. God knows me so well that he likes to provide practical visual examples of his love. He used this film, a gardening film nonetheless, to show this basic principle in a way that I could easily understand and get excited about!
Matthew 11:28-30 talks about giving our burdens to Jesus. You see, Jesus wants to take our burdens and he wants to show us his ways. Of course he wants us to cook, clean, garden, farm, make a living, teach, parent, etc…but his way is much easier than the ways of our own.
I started applying the principles that Paul spoke about in his film into every aspect of my life. My marriage, parenting, homeschooling, cooking, cleaning, gardening, everything. By applying this verse to it all, I have reduced my stress, reduced my workload, and have gained a closer connection to Jesus because I simply ask the question, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” Acts 9:6.
To give you an example, we keep the 7th day Sabbath each week. Our food preparations and cleaning are all done on Friday prior to sunset.
In the beginning of our Sabbath keeping, I would always organize a full meal for both lunch and supper. As the week inched closer to Friday, and I had forgotten about meals, I would always stress a little about what we would prepare. I also started to become bitter with Sabbath preparation, thinking, “Why on earth am I in the kitchen for 6+ hours?
It shouldn’t be this way.” I had felt this way for the 4 years we had been keeping the Sabbath but hadn’t applied this principle up to this point. I love the way Paul talks to God. He asks questions…lots of questions.
And God answers!
It really is a two way conversation! One day, after watching the film, I said, “Lord, I am overwhelmed. I just can’t go on creating all of these meals and consuming my whole Friday with cleaning and cooking. What do you want me to do?”
He answered me with, “Tasha, who asked you to cook such elaborate meals? Your family hasn’t. They are happy with whatever you prepare for them. Simplify. Simplify it all. Create a weekly meal plan with a grocery list. Make one meal that will feed all of you for both lunch and supper. If you can, eat raw meals as fruits and vegetables become available in season. There will be less food preparation, and less work.”
Go figure…Jesus really knows what he is doing because my stress level, the workload, even the amount of food we eat, has lessened…a lot.
I thought, “Well, this is good.
If I apply this to my homeschooling, I bet that will become easier too!” And it did.
I started to apply it to everything in my life. We did start our Back to Eden gardening method this spring. Everyone in our neighborhood looked at us like we were crazy.
I am sure they were thinking, “Oh, it’s the crazy wood chip family,” as we personally hauled in loads and loads of wood chips for our new gardens in our front yard.
But as our garden has grown and flourished (and we even planted 3 weeks later than normal), people are stopping, and asking, why we don’t have any weeds, why we don’t water, and are amazed at how well everything is doing.
See the wood chip method isn’t just a method, it is also a test of faith. Faith that things will in fact grow up and out of those wood chips. The best part is, these gardens will only keep getting better, and better, easier and easier as each season passes.
Didn’t Jesus say that his ways are better than man’s ways?
His yoke really is easy, and his burden really is light. The next time that you have a closet that needs cleaning, a homeschool schedule that needs simplifying, a meal that needs preparing on a tight schedule, a trip to the grocery store, a gardening method that really is less burdensome, a way to train your children in chores, a way to save money, a way to simplify your life, just ask the question, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?”
If you are listening, rather than fretting, you will hear his still, small voice reassure you that he has a simple way for you.