Some dads play golf, some dads go camping, while others live out their dreams through their son’s sports. My father is a master gardener.
Growing up, his skill and expertise at producing bountiful produce was unappreciated and even maligned as the bountiful produce meant hours (it felt like it) of snapping beans, shelling peas and busting my nails over Lima beans and black eyed peas. For the love!
But now, with all the folk (warning …folk has been coopted by hipsters) clammering aboard the organic community farmers market bandwagon, my dad is the original, old school farmer. And I am blessed in this season of my life, to be learning from the master gardener.
Recently (always after Derby in Kentucky) I joined him in his garden to learn the proper way to plant tomatoes. It was a gorgeous day and I was a willing assistant, learning all the tricks of the trade to grow luscious tomatoes that will make it to picking time!
As we began, it dawned on me that I wasn’t just learning about tomatoes, but that gardening skills provided insights into living. I shouldn’t be too surprised, the Master Gardener who created all has flawless design principles that simple humans can grasp…so the law and order principles of a garden also applys equally to our lives; while now mostly lived out away from the soil can still ease the toil of work in offices buildings.
You First Must Prepare The Soil
For a plant to thrive, it must have proper soil. Different plants require different soil preparations. Nevertheless, the soil must be prepared. Jesus spoke that in order for listeners to hear God’s Truth, they must have the proper soil…rocky soil won’t do, soil not attended to where weeds will grow won’t work, and shallow soil where birds will take the plant seed away won’t produce either.
What soil are you rooted in? Each one of us requires different soil…I truly love God’s variety and diversity displayed throughout creation. Only you can answer the question about your soil. You must prepare your soil properly. No one else can or will.
Know Your Enemies; Prepare to Defend Against Them
My dad is smart. The first enemy of a tomato plant isn’t birds but the cut worm. If you plant tomatoes without the knowledge of this enemy or the proper protection, the cut worm will come along and cut the young tomato plant dead. Many gardeners are blindsided by this cut worm and their plants don’t even have a chance. One of my dad’s gardening buddies was so perplexed by this worm he thought he should build a fence around his garden.
A fence will not keep out a cut worm. Can you imagine?! No, to thwart the cut worm it takes an easy and cheap preparation…remove the lower leaves and then wrap strips of newspaper taped around the base of the plant. Then, when the tomato plant is in the ground, bring the soil up to the newspaper. The cut worm cannot cut through the newspaper!
Often we’re a lot like my dad’s friend, we believe we protect ourselves best by creating a wide zone of fenced in safety.
Protection most often means to strip ourselves of unnecessary things and wrap ourselves closely for protection.
God’s Word instructs us to guard our hearts. Your heart must be wrapped in God’s Word! Paul encourages us to put on the full armor of God. Instead, we plunk our kids in Christian schools, find a safe social circle and only associate with people who think and live exactly like us. That is not protection! Again, you are the only person who can protect your heart and mind against your enemies. No one else can do this for you.
More importantly you must wake up and realize you have enemies and must protect yourself from them. You must know your enemy. The schemes of the devil are to kill, steal, and destroy.
Besides Satan, there are enemies in your work and private life (not to make you paranoid!). You must identify and know how to protect yourself from that particular enemy who wishes to kill, steal and destroy.
For example, know your weakness (people pleaser, conflict avoider, etc) by knowing yourself and do not let those weaknesses be used against you by a manipulative enemy. A true friend would never exploit your weakness for their own agenda.
Also, most signs of aggression do not require an answer. Let your enemy say hateful things. So what? They want you in a fight to bring you down. Ignore the hatred and continue to live a life pleasing to God the Father who knows the Truth.
I could write so much more about this point, but will stop for now. I will write a separate post on guarding against enemies because it’s so prevalent in today’s social media world.
You Must Choose The Proper Support
Most will recognize the tomato cages that offer some support for growing plants. However, the cages won’t mean anything if the cages aren’t tied to a stake.
You see,as the tomatoes grow on the plant, they become heavy. So heavy that the cage itself will no longer be able to support the tomato and it will bend and touch the ground.
If a tomato touches the ground, it’s over. Rotten and inedible. So, the cages must be tied to a sturdy support. This stake will keep the cages upright and the tomatoes off the ground.
You Must Have Strong Support
No one gets through this life alone. Support comes from somewhere…God, spouse, parents, friends and even strangers at times. Only you can identify who can provide strong support in your life…for your growth, for your heavy burdens, for everything.
The tomatoes are set and are beginning to grow. If the plants receive the proper sunlight and rain, we will be enjoying those ‘maters later this summer!
I will keep you updated on their progress!
What about you? Are you thriving in your garden?! Let me know in the comments!