Seasons of Growth, Part 2: Fruit Bearing
In my last post, I wrote about some basic gardening practices and used those ideas to build an analogy about spiritual growth. Just as a gardener does not plant all her seeds at once but plants different things at different times, so God plants different seeds of obedience in our hearts at different times during a season of growth. In this post, I’d like to continue with the garden theme. This time we’ll focus on the particulars of bearing fruit.
I’ll start by stating the obvious. You have to have four basic elements for fruit. Dirt, nutrients, water, and sunlight. I’ll forego a long-winded explanation on these elements and merely say that the proper balance is needed for ideal fruit bearing, no matter your crop. Yet I’d like to direct your attention to a specific crop: tomatoes.
As I child, I didn’t like tomatoes nearly as much as I thought I “should.” I ate them. I didn’t savor them. My dad has a passion for tomatoes, and I’m sure it drove him batty to watch me put ketchup on my cold tomato slices to “make them taste better.” Over time, my preferences have changed, and I love a cold tomato sandwich on a hot summer day. Tomatoes thrive in hot weather with adequate watering.
Weather isn’t my only consideration with tomatoes. Tomatoes need frequent attention in order to produce a healthy crop, because they will begin to grow sucker shoots. “Suckers,” as we call them, truly suck the life from the plant and prevent the plant’s energy from reaching the bloom stalks and thus the fruit. A sucker should be pinched off (even if it’s large), so that the plant will grow properly and produce large tomatoes. A sucker always appears at the base of a leaf directly below the bloom stalk. So if you want “better” tomatoes, pinch off that sucker. When I am suckering the tomatoes, I am sometimes worried about how the plant will recover from such a wound. That is why I try to catch the suckers when they are small.
There’s a completely different philosophy of gardening out there that says something like this. “Stick the plant in the ground and let it go. You’ll get tomatoes.” True. Tomato plants will bear tomatoes even if left to themselves. Sucker shoots, if left attached, will also bloom and bear more tomatoes. So why would you remove the suckers? Wouldn’t you want an abundant crop? When the gardener removes the suckers, the vine is strengthened and the first blooms can mature sooner into larger fruits with meatier flesh.
Someone once said, “The unexamined life isn’t worth living.” So here’s the Question: do you feel as if God is about to do something “big” in your life? Do feel a season of growth or productivity coming on? If so, then here’s the Challenge Question: what is your sucker? What thing, whether good or bad, could be sucking the life from this season of amazing fruitfulness?
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful” (John 15:1-2).
What might be your greatest obstacle to growing in Christ? You might be like a tomato plant, on the verge of bearing lots of big-ole tomatoes. Allow God to remove (prune) the suckers, so that you may continue to grow and bear fruit in His name.
by Heather Soukup, Director of Women’s Ministries