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Lessons from the Vegetable Garden

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For most of my life I have had a vegetable garden. This year, though, I am giving my garden plot a much-needed rest. Also, the gardener gets a break too! All I have is two eggplants, and a few tomato and pepper plants.

Over the years I have discovered that if you make life too easy for vegetable plants they will not grow to maturity; they will not produce the desired crop. One year I heavily fertilized my okra plants. They grew and grew and grew! These were the largest, greenest and most beautiful okra plants I ever had. But there was a small problem. The okra plants invested all their energy in growing and none in producing flowers, which would produce the actual okra.

Lesson learned: Too much fertilizer will stifle the production of fruit.

Also, I have learned over the years that if too much water is applied to a garden, plants may only develop a shallow root system. There is no need for the plants to send roots deeper into the soil in order to find moisture. Heavy watering means that the water is near the surface and that’s where the roots will remain. It is good for plants to have as deep roots as possible. For then, the plant has much greater access to moisture; thus a greater chance of surviving and thriving.

Lesson learned: If plants are not given some moisture stress, they will not develop deep roots.

I am reminded of what James tells us in his book: Consider it all joy my friends, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith will produce endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2-3).

It is not the easy life that results in wholeness, wellbeing, love for God and others. It is the life that embraces hardship and testing, recognizing that God uses these experiences to deepen and enrich our lives. When our spiritual roots grow deep, we are able to remain strong when those times of difficult testing come.

I pray every day for my grandson, Thomas. I do not pray that he will have an easy life. I do not pray that hardship will not come his way. I pray that he will grow deep spiritual and emotional roots. For then I know, he will become what our Lord Jesus has created him to be.