Bearing Fruit…

Kneeling in the rich red dirt, I picked up another green onion to plant. Being a teen, I wondered why Mother made me interrupt my busy life to plant onions. The pile of onions seemed mountainous to my eyes and the task interminable. The young neighbor girl came to ask what I was doing. I chaffed under her questions. After a time she commented, “You just keep on, keepin’ on.”
I pondered those words as I placed one onion after another into its place. At first, the words rankled, but then they took on a life of their own. That is what life is – ‘keep on, keepin’ on’. The mundane tasks in life continue and they represent a monument to perseverance and a pathway to humility and servant hood.
When gardening time this year approached, my dear husband didn’t have the energy to work outside. I suggested that we plant tomatoes that grow upside down. We bought two and hung them on the back porch. I pictured the luscious summer fruit hanging in clusters from the healthy green vines. I pictured myself biting into a salad or a sandwich that contained fresh tomatoes. All from the back porch.
The tomato plants grew… with leggy and anemic leaves. Ed finally devised a way to hang them in the back yard. Finally after two months of growth the overly-watched tomato plants began blooming. Excited, we watched for little green tomatoes to ‘set-on’.
We have rationalized the lack of bearing tomatoes just as Elijah rationalized why Baal did not answer the prophets – “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.” (I Kings 18:27) We thought that the tomato plants appeared to be shy, disoriented because they were upside down and needed counseling or a plant psychiatrist.

Now we dream of picking fresh tomatoes on the back porch as the snow flies. Dreams and visions are forever, whether reality or not.

I thought of the many seasons of gardens that were planted in my family from great grandparents on, I remembered the words the neighbor girl said, “Keep on keepin’ on.” The 7 foot sunflowers Dad raised one year in Clinton, the sugar cane to beat the sugar rationing during WW II that later fermented and caused an explosion in the basement, the early lettuce from our garden to the prized peaches and apples. Why does growing intrigue us so? Giving us a sense of fulfillment and joy.

We are the produce of God’s Garden. Patiently He teaches, He plants the seed, He waters and disciplines us for the Final Harvest. How He rejoices to see us growing into strong plants who praise Him. How He works to protect us from evil in the form of disease and the enemies of pure spiritual growth. He prunes us to stimulate more growth. He cuts out the diseased parts always in love and mercy. We ask why we must endure. We wonder why we must “keep on keepin’ on”.

Do we try to grow upside down, defying God’s gravity? Do we bloom and then refuse to bear fruit?

When the growing season is over and the harvest is gathered in, God provides rest for His Children. When the cold wind and the snows blow around me each winter, I know God is still there protecting His Garden of Saints. And I know the truth — in ‘keepin’ on’ in faith and trust — I am safe in His Garden of Saints. Not because of what I am, but because of Who He is!

May I ever praise you,

May I ever glory

Not for what I do

But what you do in me.

Comments? eacombs@eacombs@cox.net