Despite having a father whose family raised beef cattle, and being myself a 4th-generation, 10-year 4-H’er, I am a city girl. I’ve got a touch of nature lover in me, but my brain works best in the straight blocks and manicured lawns of the suburbs I know. Getting my hands dirty takes a distinct effort of the will.
This creates a bit of a challenge when I go to read the Scriptures. Those lovely passages about the vine-grower, the fig trees, the good seed, and all the rest demand a stretch of the imagination to get at the Lord’s lessons. Between my abhorrence of all vegetables and a hatred for weeding, gardens aren’t my thing. (Plus, as I’ve proven to my coworkers a couple of times, I kill plants. Accidentally.)
Until, this summer, I was given the gift of learning to harvest.
It started when I helped my gardener friend with her crop of tomatoes. Originally, when she asked for help, I anticipated a few dozen fruits, nothing more than ten minutes’ work. Yeah … the kitchen table was covered with something like 250 green tomatoes when we finished.
There’s a sense of rightness about harvesting a garden, and a calm solidity about gathering baskets of the food God gives us. Observing the vines twined around each other, and asking my gardener friend questions about her plants and crops, I finally started to understand Christ as the husbandman of His parables. I began to grasp the care He takes to put us in the place suitable for our growth (not too much sun or shade), and to make sure weeds don’t choke us … and with what joyful anticipation He must watch for our harvest-time to see what fruit we’ve grown.
That same week, I was introduced to the apple and pear trees that grow in the ornamental gardens around my office building. I’d walked by them many times, but never stopped to notice the beautiful McIntosh apples that grew, fresh for the taking, on the boughs. Being a certified city girl, I was wary about just eating a fruit off a tree (don’t ask me why, I do know that’s where they come from before they end up in the grocery store aisle.) After the first few bites, I was hooked, and proceeded to gather up a few dozen for myself and friends. As I scanned the trees for the best fruit, I would continually find one that looked just perfect, only to turn it halfway and realize the worms had gotten to it first.
Remember that Gospel passage about trees bearing good or bad fruit? Or worse … the fig tree that doesn’t bear any fruit at all? Finally starting to get that one. If we’re trees in the Lord’s orchard, it must be incredibly frustrating — in human terms, at least — to think a tree is bearing good fruit, only to find out that most of the harvest is worm-ridden. But it’s also rather fun to discover that a tree that only bears tiny apples has the sweetest crop.
Copyright 2017 Rebecca Willen