When I was younger, for sure before I was married and had kids, I had a list of things I knew I would never do. Well, not an actual list, but I knew there were things that just weren’t in my comfort zone, so I would not be doing them.
On that list, to name a few, would be drive a tractor, own a cat, eat green olives on pizza and have a garden. Spoiler alert, I have done all those things! More shocking than that, I actually like all those things. (To be honest, I could take or leave the cats…my kids really like them though.) One thing I have definitely learned is to never say never!
Gardening has surprisingly become something I really enjoy and not just tolerate because I feel a good farmer’s wife should have a garden. I don’t think that. It is too much work to grow your own food if you don’t like the process.
But since I like eating and cooking, and since my husband’s salsa intake could make us go broke (just kidding…but seriously), I have looked forward to planting, growing and harvesting the veggies from my very own garden.
I like tending to most of the plants. The tomatoes get their own little cage to hold them up. The snap peas climb up a homemade trellis, and the broccoli plants just need some space to broaden their branches. But the one crop that is giving me fits this year is the carrots.
First of all, the carrot seeds are tiny, so who knows how many you and your “helpful” kids actually manage to get in the ground! Next, they take forever to come up, and when they do, they have to combat the weeds that did not take so long to appear. If you try to pull the weeds out, the mini carrot plants come up!
I feel like I have a real-life perspective on a parable Jesus told. Here is the one I’m thinking of:
“Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died. Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted! Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.” -Matthew 13:3-9, NLT
Can you see the connection? I was the farmer who planted the seeds. My soil was fertile, but weeds (like the thorns in the scripture) came up and choked out many carrot plants. So annoying!
Later on in this same chapter of the Bible, Jesus talks about wheat that got sprinkled with weed seeds by an enemy. The farmer in that parable decides to let them grow up side by side, because pulling the weeds would also pull out the wheat.
That’s my problem, but I don’t have an enemy to blame. But let’s go back to the parable of the seeds that I quoted above. My little carrot seeds got choked out. The ones that sprouted now have to fight the weeds for water, sun and nutrients. Not an ideal condition for growing.
I have discovered another surprise about gardening/farming: there are so many parallels to the Bible, and therefore, to life!
In that same chapter, Jesus explains that the seeds are the Good News about Jesus. All the different scenarios from the scripture above, the rocky soil, the thorns, the path, all of them explain how we receive the Good News about Jesus. Let’s look just at the thorns, or in my case, the wild weeds.
My seeds grew up, but most of them were choked out. How many times does a good word from the Lord get planted, either from a sermon, a book, a podcast, a worship song or from the Bible, and then we forget it? We let it become crowded out of our minds, pushed out by things that do not build us up or encourage us.
Sometimes, the crowding is the work of the devil. I have found that I am more susceptible to an attack from the enemy after I have had a great time in worship or in fellowship with other believers. It’s like he can’t wait to bring me down from that high. Sometimes that’s when my husband and I will have a serious “disagreement.” We can’t stop these attacks, but we can be ready for them. If we can catch them early enough, they won’t accomplish the damage Satan intended. Hmmm, just like if I would have pulled weeds before they got so big and crowded out my carrots…
Other times, the good stuff is pushed out because of choices we make. I’ve said it before, and I know I’ll say it again: our minds are not vacuums, especially for women. We are always thinking about something! If we choose to focus on the good stuff and keep tending the good “seeds” God planted, then those words and encouragement from God can take root and grow.
But if we fill our minds with negative images, songs, TV shows, movies or books that don’t help lead us in righteousness, the good words from God get pushed out. The weeds of profanity, crude humor and violence choke out the fruit God is trying to grow in us.
That got a little more deep than I expected, but I think it is important to be aware of this truth. What we put into our hearts is eventually going to come out in the fruit we bear. Will it be rotten or sweet?
And all this from some little carrot plants…
“A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.” -Luke 6:45, NLT