Straw bale gardening is a peculiar thing.  I had never heard of it before Kevin started checking into it back in April.  Basically, you put fertilizer and water on straw bales  for a few weeks, let it produce bacteria, and then put your plants in it.  When Kevin started the process, I just expected the straw bales to get smelly and somewhat decomposed on the inside as they were prepared for planting.  Boy, was I surprised when I walked out the back door and found lots of mushrooms growing all over the tops of the straw bales.  Having read a book on the project, Kevin knew it would happen and wasn’t surprised at all.  

God’s ways with us are just as surprising.  We become Christians and expect to have to be a certain way in order to please God, even though He says salvation is a free gift.  So we start trying to be perfect.  We go to Church and volunteer; we give our money; we read our Bible and pray.  We do all this thinking “surely now God is happy with me!”  I have been thinking about all of this “doing” and “trying” a lot.  I’m exhausted just thinking about it.  I can never be perfect.  And then I read this Scripture: Psalm 50:14-15, 23:

Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High, and call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.

The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!

Now, you can read into this passage that we should be doing good works in order to please God, but God emphasizes in this passage that He wants us to be thankful.  In meditating on this, I thought of John 15:4, which says:

Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

If we are abiding in Christ, then we will know Him very well.  This will cause us to truly be thankful – because how can we not be thankful when we are living in a close relationship with the Savior.  The abiding and thankful heart will produce fruit of good works that will flow from us naturally!  No more striving, no more obedience out of a sense of duty.  If we start to have an ungrateful heart and find that you don’t want to obey or serve the Lord, it’s time to re-evaluate your relationship with Jesus.  Have you stopped abiding?  We all have to check ourselves from time to time.  I’m so glad we have this promise in James 4:8:

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.  Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

More than anything else, God wants us to be with Him.  That’s why He sent His Son to die in our place.  God can accomplish anything He wants to without our help, but we have to give ourselves to Him in order to have a relationship with Him.  Let’s abide, even if it is peculiar!