No....not the Garden of Eden.
If you know me, you may be surprised to see me talking about gardening, and I promise you won't often seen posts about gardens. I grew up in an agricultural area and many of my classmates were part of FFA (when it still meant Future FARMERS of America!), but I am not a gardener. I tend to have a "black thumb" rather than the proverbial "green thumb". I make plants die.
So, why I am I writing about gardens? My mother-in-law likes to garden. Every summer she plants tomatos, peppers and squash (and whatever else tickles her fancy that year. The problem comes when she and Dad, inevitably, leave in the middle of the summer to visit their other boys or some friends. That leaves me, the non-gardener--to tend the plants. One year, I just about killed the tomatoes, but my sister-in-law revived them.
This year, my in-laws didn't leave town until mid-August, so much of the garden-tending was finished. We had already enjoyed many vegetables from the garden, so if I failed, it wouldn't be too bad. Also, the plants were mostly mature, so all I have to do is give them some water every few days and pick the ripe ones. Even I can handle that.
Okay....here are the lessons I've learned this week:
1. Two tomatoes, with the exact same nourishment and care, can develop at different rates.
I am amazed when I see a cherry tomato vine that had a shoot with 4 tomatoes. Two are green and two are bright red. They have had the exact same access to the vine, and exactly the same amount of water. But they are completely different in development.
The same is true for us. Two people can face the same circumstances and react completely differently. We can be fed the same spiritual food, but absorb it different. And, just as neither tomato was "better" than the other, those who are more mature spiritually, are not "better" than those who develop at a slower rate. Both will develop--in their own time.
2. Some branches had living fruit AND dead leaves.
Even though the branches were *close* to the vine, those branches and leaves were not taking in the nourishment of the vine. Instead, they were brown and dying.
With us, we can spend time *near* God---so busy with "church stuff" that we can't find time to receive our our own refreshment from the Vine. And the refreshment needs to come on a daily basis. One "fill up" on Sunday, won't last all week.
3. It's not over 'til it's over.
I had given up on the zucchini and squash plants. It didn't look like any more were going to mature. But, just in case, I watered them along with the tomatoes. This morning I bought zucchini and squash at Farmer's Market because I was certain I wouldn't have more. But this afternoon, I found two ripe, mature zucchini. I'd given up too soon.
In the same way, God isn't finished with me yet. And He has promised to finish the good work He started in me--but I won't be finished until God takes me to Heaven. I am still a work in prorgress. Even if it seems that all signs of life are gone, it's not over yet.