Gardening as a Family of Faith
I enjoy vegetable gardening. I enjoy the process of it. I enjoy planning the garden, planting seeds or transplants, tending them, watching them grow, harvesting and sharing the harvest with others. I enjoy working alone in the garden, but I also enjoy having company and help when I work.
I enjoy seeing the results of the work, regardless of the stage in the process. When the seedlings emerge, I get excited about the signs of new life. Early in the season, I like watching the plants grow quickly. We all can look like Master Gardeners in the spring when our plants are healthy and strong! When pests and critters threaten the health and survival of the plants, I fight back to protect them. When they begin to produce fruit, I celebrate. When the harvest peeks, my kitchen overflows with produce as I try to figure out how to eat, preserve and share all of it fast enough. Throughout the season, I take and send pictures to my family members in other states who also enjoy gardening. They send me pictures of their gardens and reports on how things are going and growing. We cheer each other on and enjoy the process together, even from a distance.
This year I enlisted my kids to help in the garden more than in previous years. At the beginning they helped prep the soil and plant. After that, there were some days when I asked them to water or fertilize. Some days they helped pull weeds. Some days they were assigned to pick ripe fruits or vegetables. When we harvested a lot, they also helped cook, can, and share. I wanted them to be involved in the process. It didn’t matter to me which of us was responsible for any certain part of the process, only that the whole job was completed when the season came to an end. I also appreciated having others to share the work with me.
Last week I read what Jesus told his disciples in John 4:35-38 (NCV) and was surprised anew at the intentionality of the similarities he drew between growing crops and growing believers:
You have a saying, ‘Four more months till harvest.’ But I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields ready for harvest now. Already, the one who harvests is being paid and is gathering crops for eternal life. So the one who plants and the one who harvests celebrate at the same time. Here the saying is true, ‘One person plants, and another harvests.’ I sent you to harvest a crop that you did not work on. Others did the work, and you get to finish up their work.”
Like gardening at our house this year, telling other people about Jesus is truly a team effort. Just as different crops mature at different times, different people are ready to accept Jesus at different times. That means we always need to prepare the soil and plant seeds, telling people about Jesus for the first time. We always need to water and fertilize, encouraging people toward faith. We always need to pull weeds, disciplining ourselves and others away from what distracts us from Jesus. We always need to be ready to harvest, welcoming a new believer into the family of God.
It warms my heart to think about gardening in this way, as Jesus taught, and the joy we share communally when we harvest. We truly are a family of faith when we plant together, tend together, harvest together and celebrate together. - Kathy Raines, Minister of Administration