If you are starting a garden, or returning to the yard to start a garden over again, now is the perfect time to start a compost pile. Don’t let the elusive nature of this earthy practice delay you—you can do this! Composting is a matter of getting started and sticking with it; more importantly, this humus-making process it is a practical way to grasp the workings of God’s forgiveness process.
God’s forgiveness? O yes! Where else can you heap dead vegetation, deformed stems and brush, something you thought would be great that quickly dried up, along with spent flowers, undesirable plants, weeds, overgrown madness—the excesses, misfits, disappointments—watch it all rot and disintegrate yet result in nourishing humus to add to the soil. A thriving garden by way of decay? O yes! What better way to understand the pattern of God’s forgiving, liberating work—
…the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
Romans 8:21 NIV
—than to see for yourself plant structures break down to particles of organic matter, used to enrich and enliven the soil, and thereby the garden’s flowers and fruits. Similarly, the LORD Jesus allows left-for-dead structures of our lives—ill-informed decisions, unjust circumstances, discarded relationships, miscalculated actions, all-out rebellion, tragic consequences—to break down our ways, until perhaps we feel as a pile of particles!
Let us turn to God and dig into His Words, Scriptures collected around the connected themes of forgiveness and freedom.
From this position of complete powerlessness, Manasseh finally humbled himself and begged the forgiveness of the Eternal God of his fathers.
2 Chronicles 33:12 VOICE
But our ancestors resisted following You. They were arrogant. They were proud. They refused to obey Your commands, plugging their ears. Knowing what You had done for them in the past, They willfully forgot it in the present. Stubborn. Rebellious. Instead of following You, They appointed their own leader to take them back to the land of their oppression—to Egypt! But You are not like us, God. You are filled with love, compassion, and forgiveness. You endure much with your anger and display Your loyal love
Nehemiah 9:16-17 VOICE
“The tax collector stood off alone in the corner, away from the Holy Place, and covered his face in his hands, feeling that he was unworthy to even look up to God. Beating his breast,[b] he sobbed with brokenness and tears saying, ‘God, please, in your mercy and because of the blood sacrifice, forgive me,[c] for I am nothing but the most miserable of all sinners!’…”
Luke 18:13 TPT
…because I know that your prayers and the help the Spirit of Jesus Christ gives me will cause this trouble to result in my freedom.
Philippians 1:19 ERV
You kissed my heart with forgiveness, in spite of all I’ve done. You’ve healed me inside and out from every disease.
Psalm 103:3 TPT
Who will free me from my slavery to this deadly lower nature? Thank God! It has been done by Jesus Christ our Lord. He has set me free.
Romans 7:24 TLB
For I know that this shall become my saving health through your prayer and the nourishment of the Spirit of Jesus Christ
Philippians 1:19 JUB
You already know that God sent a message to the people of Israel; it was a message of peace, peace through Jesus the Anointed—who is King of all people…. You know God identified Jesus as the uniquely chosen One by pouring out the Holy Spirit on Him, by empowering Him. You know Jesus went through the land doing good for all and healing all who were suffering under the oppression of the evil one, for God was with Him…. All the prophets tell us about Him and assert that every person who believes in Jesus receives forgiveness of sins through His name.
Acts 10:36, 38, 43 VOICE
Considering this heap of healing Words, back to the garden we go! Let’s look at the basics of where, what, and when to start a compost pile, a mini-monument to forgiveness in the Lord Jesus.
Where to Put the Pile
Locating your compost pile requires a bit of planning. Bluntly described, the pile will be ugly and crawling with bugs. They carry out the work of decomposing, that’s good—still, not the most comforting sight. You will want to screen it from the panorama of your landscape, and keep these critters a good distance from your house. However, remember that secure access is a must for composting to become routine, so create a wheelbarrow-friendly route for the coming and going of dumping discards and retrieving “black gold” to replenish flower beds and vegetable plots.
What to Put in the Pile
Adding material to your compost pile is easy this time of year. The change of seasons, from summer to fall, will give you much to pile up:
- annuals taken up in anticipation of the first freeze
- perennials drying up or dying back
- endless falling leaves from autumn’s colorful display
- shrubbery trimmings
- grass clippings not left on the lawn
- and did I mention fall’s leaves?? No more bagging!!
You can get more adventurous, collecting coffee grounds for the process, and continue the kitchen to garden move by gathering food prep scraps. Eggshells, berry stems, fruit rinds, veggie trimmings, rotten lettuce leaves and the like, bouquets of flowers past their prime and much more are compostable. Increase compost’s fertilizing power by adding manure from local farms.
When is the Pile Ready?
Compost is ready when you don’t recognize the original state of its contents—when moldy rinds and rotted broad leaves have given way to dark brown, dirt-looking, earthy-smelling particles. Not a very scientific description! Yet over time, you will come to know when the results are ready to mix in garden soil. Expect several months at least to yield workable compost.
Turning the pile from time to time will help move along the process, and allow you to get to the bottom of it, and find the first pockets of finished product ready for garden beds. Decomposition advances more quickly when the pile is moist. Yes, in hot, rainless weather, you may need to water the pile along with the garden.
The Best Reason
There are many benefits to producing compost from your own garden and kitchen cast-offs, yet the best reason is to live the metaphor of forgiveness while caring and tending your garden. May it move from garden to fill your whole life! To start a compost pile is to enter into a working relationship with His ways—forgiveness is the currency of His Kingdom.
Prayer: O Lord Jesus, thank you for your love. Thank you for the freedom we have through your forgiveness. By your death and life, we are rescued from death—delivered! We are not bound to mistakes or misery, to our shortcomings or stupidity, to dead-end lives in oppression. Turning away from such things that decay our soul, we turn to you for life. Trusting in you, Holy Son, will usher me from trouble and trauma to nourishment and health. Stir my soul with your ways every time I stir my garden soil, O God.
Who will rescue us from this body of death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our LORD!
Romans 7:24-25 NIV
That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God
is worked into something good.
Romans 8:28 The Message
Find a series of devotions on Composting in God’s Word for Gardeners Bible, beginning on page a-31
ERV denotes Scripture quotations taken from the HOLY BIBLE: EASY-TO-READ VERSION © 2014 by Bible League International. Used by permission.
JUB denotes Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Scriptures Jubilee Bible 2000 (From the Scriptures of the Reformation) Copyright © 2013, 2020. Translated and Edited by Russell M. Stendal.
The Message denotes Scripture quotations taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries.
NIV denotes Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.®
TLB denotes Scripture quotations taken from The Living Bible copyright © 1971 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved. The Living Bible, TLB, and the The Living Bible logo are registered trademarks of Tyndale House Publishers.
TPT denotes Scripture quotations taken from The Passion Translation®. Copyright © 2017, 2018 by Passion & Fire Ministries, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ThePassionTranslation.com
b. Luke 18:13 The Greek verb typto, means “to strike,” or “to strike dead.” It is a violent term also used of the scourging of Jesus.
c. Luke 18:13 The Greek text uses a word that implies he was saying to God, “Look at me as you look at the blood-sprinkled mercy seat.”
VOICE denotes Scripture quotations taken from The Voice™. Copyright © 2012 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
©2015-20 Shelley S. Cramm