This morning I worked in the garden – weeding it and clearing it of rocks and other hindrances. Then – I spied my tomato plant and was pleased to see it held one tiny bloom! Feeling a small sense of accomplishment, I immediately went and grabbed my broom and began swatting the plant. Yes – that’s right – I began beating it! My husband’s granddad, DaddyMac, told me that produces the sweetest fruit and most abundant. I proceeded to swat at my peppers too! As crazy as it sounds, DaddyMac is right because it forces the roots deeper into the soil to the life-giving nutrients. Doesn’t the same pertains to our Christian walk and faith –we’re just tomato plants doing the best we can and can settle for one tomato or allow the Master Gardner to prune us, trim us,and dare I say –beat us or I guess we should say — allow us to be tested so we can yield the best fruit? The process forces us to dig deep into the soil of our soul into the life-giving river.
Amplified Bible 15 I am the True Vine, and My Father is the Vinedresser.
2 Any branch in Me that does not bear fruit [that stops bearing] He cuts away (trims off, takes away); and He cleanses and repeatedly prunes every branch that continues to bear fruit, to make it bear more and richer and more excellent fruit.
I want to be fruitful in my faith, so I shouldn’t be surprised when those trying moments come —2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. James 1:2 I am beginning to worry about the church and the sermons I’ve heard or heard about. There seems to be a trend to preach “feel good” messages that are uplifting. Nothing totally wrong with that – we do need encouragement, but what about conviction? When was the last time you went to church and felt the pastor was preaching to you and you felt a bit uncomfortable? Life isn’t easy nor pretty. We need sermons that reflect that and let us know that’s normal. Yes the encouragement is there – but –the opportunity for change is presented as well. That is our reality or at least mine.
Back to my plants, it would be less work on me to let the plants just do their own thing and let them be content right? It would be easier to seek a job that avoid problems, conflicts, and is comfortable. Every year, towards end of the year, I always think “do I want to come back next year?” (I teach 7th grade English). After this year, I did the same thing because this year morphed into the hardest of my 8 years of teaching. I had lots of soul-searching moments and questions. In fact, quite a few of my colleagues and I had those moments together. Then, one by one, we got little thank you notes, huge baskets of plants, and other gifts from students and families thanking us for making a difference in their life. One of my friends received a note from a student thanking them for being their during a their tough year. My friend didn’t know this child was going through a trial, but it helped confirm all of our decisions that we are where we need to be — difficulties and all.
Don’t be surprised when the trials, rain, wind, storms come – don’t look at the now – but towards the future of what good can and will come out of it. The fruit produced through those difficulties will be used in our ministry to others going through their pruning process.