I am a gardener – for the love of watching things grow and eating tasty foods. Not to be confused with the green-thumbed horticulturalist-type who knows the Latin names of their plants, tests their soil monthly, and installs $1,000 worth of sprinkler systems for their perfectly aligned and Ph balanced raised beds. I am the sprinkler system!
Most of my life I have lived in places that welcomed this hobby/life-style to different degrees, and thought myself “gifted” in this general area, if not “talented.”
For a short few years, I lived in Virginia – a great place to garden. I grew my own avocado tree (yes – outside), watermelon, cantaloupe – whatever I wanted. Except corn. The local bugs pretty much formed a line and carried it away. I couldn’t figure out how to stop them, so I just gave up and pulled all the corn. I became more specialized. I bought local corn from people who had the problem figured out, and dedicated my garden space to plants I was better at growing. Mmmmm – fresh cantaloupe for breakfast. I can still taste it.
Zucchini!! I could grow those puppies! When my neighbors stopped willingly taking them (because their fridges overflowed…), I took to leaving them on their doorsteps with a few other goodies midday while they were at work. Problem solved! I recently saw a “how to” video pop up on You Tube for ways to prune your zucchini plants to increase production…not even joking! Seriously – I had never before contemplated trying to get a zucchini plant to increase production. That’s almost like pruning your dandelions! I couldn’t help but laugh out loud; no matter what my dog thought. Anyway; she’s sort of used to my introverted-self popping off with random sentences or sounds based on some inner workings of my “twisted mind.” This time, though, I couldn’t help thinking about passages in scripture that talk about pruning. There was an explosion of inner activity comparing my yard and garden, me, and God’s Plan for my life.
My husband and I have both struggled recently to keep up; his work is at peak season with record sales and our 1 acre of weeds, grass, trees, and gardens (in that order) needs a lot of attention. Hubby is working 12-hour days often, so it’s mostly on me here at the homestead. Lemme tell ya – 6 hours a day of yard work in hot sun takes it right out of you.
We are both studious in God’s Word; joyfully so. But we both cut back the hours per week we studied based on high demand. While it’s true we all have seasons that pull us away from the “great” to tend to the “good” or even the “must,” that video ad got me thinking. A big question popped into my mind. “Just because you’re good at something, does that mean you can just put it in ‘auto’ and do like you always have, or the way life has molded you, or does God expect even more production from a good producer? Does He expect us to be ready for change? I immediately knew the answer.
Luke 19:15-17 “And so it was that when he returned, having received the kingdom, he then commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. Then came the first, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned ten minas.’ And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.’ NKJV (Words of Christ)
John 15:1-4 “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. NLT (Words of Christ)
We are God’s garden, if you will. As a gardener, I had never heard of “curly top virus” (from the bite of a particular and infected beetle). I’m in my 60’s, and have gardened all my life. It took only a few days for every one of my hand grown (from seed), 18 tomato plants to look like someone had angrily torched them from above. All my potatoes followed. The local nursery hadn’t heard of it. I don’t know how many You Tube videos I watched. Hoping…I was hoping those once gorgeous, fluffy tomato plants could be saved. I was still tasting fresh spuds. In the end, with tears in my eyes, I had to pull every tomato plant, and cut off most of each plant in my potato patch.
The spuds look like the harsh pruning might have saved them. It was too late for the tomatoes. High mountain gardening is unforgiving and provides a short growth window. They would not have recovered in time to do anything but greet the snow. It’s been about a week now. I have noticed this – the plants that were near the sick tomatoes, though unaffected by the virus itself, have branched into those open places and are maturing more quickly than before. It isn’t that the tomatoes were somehow “morally bad” (and it’s very true that I actively search for growth) but it is true that their death provided space for more growth in other plants. More than I initially intended in my square-foot garden environment. And it will be tasty this fall – I know there is more, and better, to come. It makes the loss of my tomatoes a bit easier as I allow myself to invest in the hope of “great” instead of “good” at the end of the season.
So – can I ask you the same question I asked myself? If you’re good at something, are you protecting the status quo of your performance, or ignoring God’s efforts to call you into greatness through some well-placed pruning, or re-directing? Are you fighting what might only look like death (or a truly needed passing) and thereby unknowingly thwarting the new life, opportunity, or some serious growth God has planned for you?
I have begun purposing myself to look at my time struggles and my performance, or life enhancements, differently – to hold even good things about my life with a looser grip, so God’s pruning doesn’t hurt as much – and remembering to watch for what blooms or grows afterwards, instead of just shedding bitter tears over the loss.
I want to better trust my Lord, and make way for pruning…even what feels like harsh pruning. Will you join me?
2 Co 3:11 So if the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever! NLT
June 29, 2021