Last year, you might recall my experiments with gardening, well, if you want to call it that. It’s more like a couple pots of herbs in my window. Emboldened by my success with the fresh herbs, I decided to expand my repertoire and try growing food, you know, to eat.
Mom and dad have always grown beautiful tomato plants. Here’s a shot of my little sis and me enjoying them. Well, actually, she’s enjoying them. I’m busy glaring at my mom, ready to throw my wooden shoe at her for making me dress up like a little Dutch girl.
I miss those fresh, vine ripe tomatoes. So, I thought I’d try my hand at growing them on my deck. How hard could it be?
I went to Lowe’s and bought potting soil, tomato plants, and pots. There, job complete. But, on the way home, I stopped at my favorite place, the library, where the master gardeners happened to be manning the “ask the master gardener” table. So, leaving my plants to wilt in the sun in my car for awhile longer, I picked their brain about my plants.
Here’s what I learned about myself, I mean my tomato plant.
- To bear good fruit, my plant needs big, strong roots.
The master gardener told me to take the roots and lay them horizontally across the soil, to allow for the most root support and growth in the pot. This way, when the heavy fruit shows up, the plant will be strong enough to support all the weight, while absorbing enough nutrients from the soil to grow lots of fruit.
Am I deeply rooted in God’s word? Do I grow deep and wide in the knowledge of Him? To bear fruit, the fruit of the spirit, I need to have daily time with God and his Word, to let him nourish me.
- My plant needs the right food
I assumed that I just needed to water my plant, and that would be all. It works for my herbs. But apparently, tomatoes are hungry little buggers. They are “big eaters,” according to the master gardener. So, I had to plant them in nutrient rich compost and regularly feed them specific tomato food.
Jesus told us that man should not live by bread alone but on the Word of God (Matthew 4:4). We are to feast on God’s word and let it feed us life. Just like starving plants don’t bear fruit, starving Christians won’t either.
- My plant needs pruning
The gardener told me about non-fruit filled branches called “suckers” that literally suck the energy out of the plant and waste what could be otherwise going to fruit production. My job as tomato keeper is to promptly remove all suckers, so my plant can focus on bearing fruit.
I wonder how many “suckers” I have in my own life. What useless limbs do I grow that take away from my God given tasks? Are there any responsibilities that I’ve taken on that are “sucking” my ability to serve God? I think about the jobs I volunteer for that don’t use my God given gifts. Maybe those are simply “suckers,” needing to be pruned.
- The plant needs a stake to guide it
I showed the gardener the height of my itty bitty plant with my hands, and she was adamant that I needed to stake it immediately. “Train it while it’s young.” Those were her words exactly. I’m not making that up. The tomatoes stake gives the plant more freedom to grow. Without the stake, it will fall over once it produces some fruit, and it will cease to produce more. With the stake, the plant has room for much more fruit; the sky is literally the limit.
We often don’t like the sound of rules and regulations imposed on us. They seem confining and too limiting, a kill joy. But James tells us of the “perfect law which brings freedom” (1:25). And like the plant, I need God’s law to direct me, to give me guidance, so I might bear the most possible fruit.
So the sky is my limit.