Here is my column for tomorrow:
My grandfather taught me many things about life. One of them was gardening. He loved working in the dirt. You wouldn’t find too many hostas, lilies, and roses in his garden. This Norwegian immigrant was as practical and frugal as they came. His motto was something like: “If you can’t eat it; it doesn’t count.”
His garden was nothing short of amazing. He would sit down each winter and plan the garden. His Burpee Garden Catalog was full of markings, wrinkles, and torn pages. Tomatoes and pepper plants would get a head start in his makeshift greenhouse. He would be busy pruning the apple and pear trees. For the established plants, he always fed the soil. He carefully prepared the soil for the seeds and plants that would be planted. Weeds didn’t stand a chance under his watchful eye.
The first signs of edibility were usually in the asparagus patch. The little green tips would poke through the ground. We picked them, steamed them for a 5 or 6 minutes, sprinkled a little salt and butter, and enjoyed the fresh taste. Radishes and green onions were next. Strawberries and raspberries were the first fruits. They didn’t usually make it back into the house. As a little boy, my favorite was the potatoes. He let me take the shovel to the rich, black Iowa dirt. He pulled up the plant and I dug out the potatoes. Sometimes there would be four of five. Sometimes there would be more. We took the potatoes and boiled them with cabbage and sausage. He always had more corn, cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, and peppers than he know what to do with. Then came the apples. We made apple sauce, apple butter, and apple pie filling. I still have their apple corer / peeler / slicer ordered from the L.L. Bean catalog dozens of years ago.
Jesus talked a lot about gardening, farming, vineyards, and such. He did this because many of the people could relate to these stories. Maybe if Jesus were alive today he would talk about football and scrapbooking. But I think he told these stories for another reason: they are such a wonderful metaphor for life.
The man prepares the soil, plants the seed, pulls the weeds, waters when necessary, and harvests the crop. God gives us life, He gives of power for daily living, and He demonstrates for us how to give, live, serve, forgive, and love.
Jesus tells us that our lives are like a branch and he is the vine. Apart from Him we can do nothing. (See John 15) Jesus says that we are like a seed planted in the ground. When we are planted in fertile soil of God’s Word, we will flourish and produce a great harvest in life. (Matthew 13) My challenge for you is this: connect to God through his Word. Read a chapter a day. Spend time with Him. And, expect great things to happen!