How my garden grows : Lessons in patience

When we moved into our home a year and a half ago, the two raised planters in the backyard had various herbs and vegetables growing in it. Through the first few months, as we were settling in, we watched the Southern California sun slowly encourage the plants to grow leaves of all shades of green. Then blossoms arrived, bursting with small buds of hopeful growth. Eventually, we could see small glimmers of hope that actual food would be growing on those plants, even though we couldn’t see the full beauty of it yet.

Our tomato plant was especially large and prolific. For months, it continued to blossom and grow small tomatoes and we would be so excited as we plucked them from the heavy vines. Even as the fall and winter months set in, our big tomato plant was still growing strong.

Close up of a bunch of growing tomatoes

Eventually, we plucked it out, cleaned out the planter and started again with a new tomato plant, adding peppers of all sorts and lovingly calling this spot in the yard our Salsa Garden.

We don’t even like tomatoes, but there is something so satisfying watching a small little plant struggle to push up toward the sun and then bear beautiful, red fruit, that we grow the tomatoes just so we can make fresh salsa and share the bounty with friends and family.

This year, our little urban garden is doing especially well, and despite our limited knowledge of how to make things grow, we are being rewarded with enough of its goodness to feel like we have accomplished something.

A few weeks ago, our Big Bertha Red Bell Pepper plant had a huge pepper on it. It was the only one on the plant and was at least 10 inches long and 5 inches wide. It was green as green could be, with no hint of turning red. One week, as we endured 100+ temperatures for days, the hot sun burned the top of the pepper and it started to wither. My husband cut Big Bertha from the vine to save what he could and we set it on the counter for a day or two to see if she might ripen.
imagesA few days later, I cut Big Bertha in half, cut off the burned portion, filled her with meat and rice and put her in the oven. The result? A tasteless pepper with some really tasty meat inside. We were sad. She was picked too soon.

The other day, feeling certain we had many tomatoes ready for picking, I grabbed the shears and started cutting away. When I brought my bounty in the house and inspected the loot, I found that I had plucked some from their vine a day or two early. They were not yet fully ripe, and I knew I had robbed them of some precious time of growing.

If I had been patient, I would have been rewarded with much better tomatoes. They needed nothing but time. They didn’t need extra water or fertilizer or sweet lullabies sung to them. They needed the gift of time which cost nothing, but I was too impatient to give it.

The fruit of the Spirit is… Patience. Galatians 5:22

The garden is a wonderful teacher. Things grow when we bury the seeds down in the earth, add water, warm sunshine and give them time. Yes, it’s much easier to go to the grocery store, buy a tomato and a pepper and whip them up into a tasty meal. But the reward of watching seeds sprout into tiny plants, grow tall and thick and start blossoming with hope of good things, that is just a different thing all together.

The garden teaches us that good things can’t be hurried along. Standing by and watching, tapping our foot in impatient hurry won’t make the tomato plant suddenly burst with fruit or make the green pepper turn red.

So it is with so many things in life, and so it is that Jesus is patiently teaching me to wait, something I am really terrible at.

Take the long way home, I hear him say.
But no! It takes too long, I reason.
And I jump on the freeway, speeding along toward home where there’s no real reason to hurry.

Wait. Be patient. It will all reveal itself in time, I hear him say.
No! I want to know now. What happens tomorrow? Next month? Next year? When will I see progress? I scream impatiently in my head.
And I start pushing and pulling and whining and complaining and trying to make things happen on my timetable, not His.
IMG_2079Plant a seed and watch it grow. Trust that I’m working in her. You can’t see it, but things are happening, I hear him say.
If I just keep talking, keep watching, keep watering, keep filling empty spaces of time with words, then I’ll feel like I’m doing something, I think.

I try to pluck the fruit too early, and the result is tasteless.
I keep tilling and watering and watching and impede the growth in my effort to help. 

I’m working on waiting. It isn’t easy for me. Patience is not my strong-suit. I do much better with hurry.

But Jesus is a patient gardener, and he doesn’t rush my growth. He won’t be hurried into plucking fruit too soon. He knows exactly how long I need to sit. And, he is doing the same thing for you.

If I take matters into my own hands, grab at what I want and take it for myself, the tasteless result will be no reward at all.

Despite the hard work of waiting, I am determined to allow Christ to build patience in me.

How about you? Do you hear him saying Wait? Stop today. Sit down on the inside and allow him to grow in your something worth the wait.



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