Tomatoes, Bread & Dukes Mayonnaise!
When all of my Mom's family gathered at the lake in the summer everyone brought boxes of tomatoes from their gardens. (Not us beach people) They were so good! Everyday we had bread, tomatoes, salt, pepper and Dukes mayonnaise! It does not get any better than that! This is one of my favorite things to eat and I think it is hard to find a good tomato!
When I was pregnant with my second daughter, Ivey, I decided to have a garden. We had the perfect back yard and I loved homegrown vegetables, especially tomatoes! So I bought seeds at the store and put them in holes and nothing happened. My uncle told me what I needed to do. He explained to the beach girl that first the soil has to be right....it has to be good. So Uncle Larry brought the tiller and tilled my garden. He also showed me how to mound my rows. If you know me I am not that patient person - I start and finish a project in the same afternoon. (That is why Mike never let me paint - hehe) It is amazing the difference good soil makes. I hooked the sprinkler up and made sure I watered often. I do not like weeding but I did because I quickly learned about weeds choking out the plants. In no time, I was growing okra, green beans, lettuce and cucumbers. I wanted tomatoes but have never had luck with them. My garden was not the prettiest - the rows were not even, I still had weeds and the mounds were like mountains and valleys. I learned a lot having a garden.
I think there are lots of lessons in having a garden. I learned about good soil, faith and pruning. Mark 4: 20, "Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.” Matthew 13: 3-8, "Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown." The same parable was told in Luke 8. Verse 8, "Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.” By not tilling my garden the soil was too hard for me to plant the seed deep enough. The water would wash it away. In the beginning the weeds did choke out some plants.
In my life there have been plenty of times that I needed good soil. When our hearts are hardened it is hard for seeds to be planted. They cannot take root.. When the storms of life come the seeds wash away. The weeds of my life, the sins, can choke out the good stuff. Jesus wants us to be "good soil" so that we can be fertile ground for His Word! If we allow Him to break us, pull the weeds of sin, fertilize us and let our old self die. The Gardener works the soil in our life by breaking it apart and softens it. He pulls the weeds. He leaves the decay of dead leaves and manure. We know that there are circumstances in our life that feels like manure but we also know that God uses those circumstances to help us grow.
Why would you plant a seed if you did not have faith that it would bloom? Hebrews 11: 1, "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." Faith is built upon trust. God wants us to trust Him. He wants us to allow Him to be our Gardener. He
wants us to trust Him – to have faith in Him - even when we do not understand what is happening, even when life seems unfair and even when the plan seems wrong.
The other lesson that is so clear to me is pruning. I remember my tomato bushes were beautiful and full of green leaves but they did not produce. My uncle explained that I needed to prune it. He explained that nutrients needed to get to where the "flower" was and that meant not sharing with all of the other branches that were not producing. I did not like doing that because the plant did not look nearly as pretty with so many leaves gone. But he was right the tomatoes started growing. Due to root rot we never got to eat them.
What seemed like the wrong thing to do by cutting the pretty green leaves but it was the best thing. We need pruning too. God trims away the dead, diseased, the unfruitful so that He can grow us in His way! Remember, God wants us to trust Him even when the plan seems wrong.
After all of the hard work of having a garden it is finally time for the harvest. Time to cook those vegetables or in the perfect world get the bread, tomatoes and Dukes mayonnaise ready! John 4: 35, "...I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest." The cultivation and care for our plants have paid off and the same for us. Our harvest becomes a source of food, rest and shelter!
Mike, if you are reading this, guess what's for supper?