Last year my Dad bought me a copy of Angus Buchan’s book “A Farmer’s Year”. It’s a devotional book from a farmer’s perspective. Today’s entry references 2 verses.
Ecclesiastes 3: 1-2
1 There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven— 2 A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
I have learned so much this past year about growing tomatoes. But more than that, I’ve learned more about what it means to follow Christ daily…though more often than not the lesson comes from my failures, not my successes. I’ve learned how important is it to sit down with my family each morning for breakfast, prayer and Bible reading. And each day that I neglect that job is a day that ends up going off the rails. My boys are important. My wife is important. My tomatoes, ultimately, are not important. But I’ve learned there that they are more important than other things, like watching football.
Each day that I put my priorities in the right order is a day that I succeed. Each day that I don’t is a day that I fail. Though sometimes a day’s success is measured by how little I accomplish in this world, and a day’s failure can be measured in how much I accomplish. Do I spend my entire Saturday in the greenhouse working? 8 hours of planting and tending may be a productive day, but if my boys keep asking me to throw the football with them, and I ignore them in favor of productivity, than that day is a failure. I may plant 100 tomatoes, but it’s still a day of failure.
I’m still learning. I suppose we all are until the day we go Home. Recently I learned a lesson about letting go of control, trusting and letting others help. And yes, I learned the hard way. That lesson cost me 60 tomato plants.
But from the mush of those 60 plants God has seen fit to revive 9.
They’re leggy, short on leaves and just plain ugly. They were once lush, green and beautiful…as testament to my horticultural prowess. And there in lay the problem, I think.
In the book of Judges, God gave Gideon the task of defeating the Midianite army, described as being as “numerous as locusts” and their camels were “without number, as the sand by the seashore in multitude”. (Judges 7:12). Gideon started with 32,000, which was paltry compared to the Midianite army. Yet God told Gideon he had too many men, that if Gideon won the Israelites would take the credit. So God whittled them down to 300. No one on earth would ever credit 300 men with winning that battle on their own. And that’s the reason God did it. When they won (and won in the amazing manner described) God got the glory, and proved to Israel and the world that He was their protector and provider.
So, I’m left now with 15 tomato plants out of about 75. I planted 15 of my beloved Stupice tomatoes, and through a series of mysterious events I’m now left with 6 in the ground down in the greenhouse. Add to that the 9 survivors of the “Great Tomatopocalype of 2013″ and my initial bounty has been whittled down to just enough to fill that one row. I was envisioning posting a self-congratulatory video on youtube of a greenhouse full of healthy tomatoes. Instead I have one row…one paltry row. 15 plants. Gee, what a great horticulturalist I am. Of course, that’s the issue. While I may cling to “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” in times of trouble, I forget that “I can do nothing without Him” in times of plenty.
I thought myself a great grower of tomatoes, forgetting all the while that God invented the tomato. He’s the first and ultimate Gardener, and anything that I do, any success I have comes only from Him. I forgot that and paid the price.
But, God is God. He can bless those 15 plants and make them grow like kudzu and produce like zucchini…or not. I’ve learned (the hard way…nothing new there) that I am NOT in control, but that’s ok. I’d rather be in His will and giving honor to Him than go it alone (again). So yes, I’m starting the year with just 15 plants. But I can’t wait to see what God will do with those 15 plants. And you can be sure that I will let you all know the mighty work that He is doing in and through those 15 plants.
Until next time…