I recently read a quote:
"The greatest soil, uncultivated, produces the rankest weeds"
How true is that? Lately I have been all the more impressed with the importance and great need for cultivation. In marriage, in relationships, in individuals' skill-sets and giftings, and many other areas.
Many people speak about the virtues of "organic growth," with the underlying insinuation that the best thing to do is let things grow naturally rather than trying to manipulate them. That sounds nice at first, but think it through: what happens to a garden when you let it grow "organically"? WEEDS! And the better the soil, the ranker the weeds will have the potential to be!
What God shows us, as usual, is not just a better way, but the BEST way. And His way is cultivation. Cultivation is what a gardener does; it is helping things to grow "organically", in the way that you want them to grow. Cultivation includes pulling out weeds and pruning plants, to help foster the best "organic" growth possible.
The first image we get of God in the Bible is of Him as a creator, creating good things, and doing it well. And when He creates the Earth, what we see is a garden planet, teeming with life. And God plants a special garden and places man and woman in it, and assigns them the task of cultivating that garden! Their job is to "subdue" the Earth, which rather than exploitation of natural resources, means the cultivation of them for the flourishing of LIFE.
So, God is a gardener, and He has created us in His image, and given us the task of gardening and cultivating that which he has given us. Cultivation is the means by which we are faithful with what God has given us; and as we are faithful to cultivate the things He has entrusted us with, He will entrust us with more (Matthew 25:21).
Cultivation means constant work. A lot like tending a garden. If you tend it regularly, it is not overwhelming; in fact, it is enjoyable. But if you neglect it, you are often left with great messes, and it takes much more work to get things back into a healthy state.
Cultivate your walk with God. Cultivate your marriage and family life. Cultivate your talents and giftings. Be intentional. Be a gardener and not a firefighter. Plan, build, plant, tend, water. So many people only engage when there is a crisis - which ironically is a contributing factor to the crises they end up facing: neglect and failure to cultivate can organically lead to weeds. We live in a world in which things left to themselves naturally go from order to chaos.
Cultivation is about facilitating and enabling healthy, organic growth - but growth in the right directions, and growth of the right kind. That's what we want in our lives and relationships! And it takes cultivation.