The lessons we learn in life seem to stick with us (or at least me) based on the ‘way’ or ‘how it it’ that I or we learned them. For instance, when I was a kid my dad told me the fire was hot. Believe it or not, I was an obedient kid and didn’t stick my hand in the flame (in his presence), but when he wasn’t around? I now know that fire is hot and will burn!! You could say that truth is “branded in my mind (and on my finger).” Examples of this could be told ad infinitum but you get the idea. The way you learn something, either through experience or repetitive teaching, determines how well something ‘stays’ with you AND how well you really understand it.
Now to the natural world. Since moving in our present house, I have begun a little ‘raised garden.’ The idea came from my pastor and friend, Tommy. Living in an area and serving 2 wonderful counties where farming is the primary vocation or advocation, my little raised garden is but a speck, but it’s mine and I enjoy it. This year, this garden has taught me a spiritual truth.
Being neither a farmer or a flower guy, nor a horticulturist, the ability to recognize a plant by its leaves, shape, color, or smell (see how little I know) is beyond me. Candidly, while many talented and experienced people are all around who can do this, I am not one. So, when I buy my plants for my little garden I depend on the ‘labeling’ which the nursery or Walmart’s Garden Center places on the plants. GRIN
Well, you guessed it, this year I chose two kinds of tomato plants, two types of bell peppers, zucchini, and squash. I planted each stalk, watered, and waited. Expecting cherry tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, green bell peppers, yellow bell peppers, squash, and zucchini, I watered twice each day and waited. We lost our squash and zucchini after just a couple of pieces because of ‘lack of watering’ as we were out of town for almost two weeks, the Roma tomatoes have done okay (a dozen or so tomatoes), and the Green Bell peppers are doing well. But guess what?
The “Cherry Tomato’ plants are doing well, the only problem is, they are not producing cherry tomatoes, rather they producing a habanero type of green (and hot) pepper. The pepper is good, mind you, but certainly not a ‘cherry tomato’. Also, the Yellow Bell Pepper hasn’t turned yellow yet, it’s green as can be. Perhaps if I let them die, they will turn yellow.
As I looked at my little garden the other day, honestly a little disappointed in the production, it is just like God spoke this word in my ear, “You will know them by their fruits.” I honestly believe that 21st Century American “Christians” need to hear this message loud and clear today. We must be told that the ‘fruits’ we produce reveal who and what we really are. When I see those plants in my little garden, they are where they are supposed to be (in the soil) doing what they are designed to do (producing fruit), yet they are a disappointment to their owner (me) because I expected something different.
The Bible says that we are “known by our fruit and our love.” As far as I can tell, these are the two ways which the Bible says the world will recognize us. My question today is this; “What kind of fruit am I producing?” It is easy to ask that of others, but sometimes it stings when we ask ourselves the tough questions.
Stephen Covey would interject habit #2 of the “Seven Habits for the Highly Effective Person”. It is, “Begin with the end in mind.” The Bible says, “Whatever you sow, you will reap.” While I thought I knew and understood this truth, thanks to this garden, I can say, “Lesson Learned.”