Teaching Grace From Tomatoes

This article is part 4 of 4 in the series Grace


   Behold, two men without to grow tomatoes. The first took little time for preparation. Taking the tender plants in rough and careless hands, he threw them in makeshift holes, quickly dug. He kicked the dirt about them, thrusting them back and forth, and packing the dirt with the heel of his boot. His movements were harsh and unfeeling and he hardly finished the job of planting one when he moved on to the next one. Then he stood back and commanded the plants to grow. Marching around the little plants he would shout out his instructions, “Produce, I command you! Produce!”
   Day by day he would appear with the stick in hand, moving about in a threatening way. “Your quota is a total of thirty two tomatoes per plant this year and you’re already behind in your growth pattern!”
   The second gardener took an entirely different approach. With tender hands he softened the ground, turning the rich soil again and again. Gently placed each little plant in the best position to catch the morning sun. He noted the shade of the larger trees, and how they would provide a cover during the heat of the day. He mixed his fertilizer with the soil and made a soft texture around the plant.
   Day by day he would come out with a spade in hand and till about the plants, watering and carefully removing weeds that would make their growth difficult. As the plants grew he staked them out, allowing the spines of each plant to be strengthened. He pruned the “suckers” that drained energy from the plants.
   “I know all of you will do well”, he said encouragingly. “Don’t you be in a hurry, harvest time will come and we will feast together.”
   The first man did not water is garden, nor did he bother to soften the hard lumps of clay. His fertilizer, without the necessary water, caused the plants to burn and wither. The ground hardened and the weeds grew. The man just could not understand tomato plants. “They’re just weak” he would grumble. “Next time I’ll plan something stronger – something that can really take it.”
   In time the harvest came.
   The plant that was beaten, in spite of the tragic circumstances produced some fruit. The branches had been broken and withered with the beatings of ‘guilt and failure’. The few tomatoes that were gathered were rather bitter. “Too much acid,” one remarked. No one was more disappointed than the plant itself, yet scars of daily neglect had taken their toll. Seeds were few for next year’s planting.
   The harvest of the other garden was rich and full. Tomatoes in all stages of growth in color literally way down the branches of all the plants. Seeds were set aside for the coming year and the fruit was gathered daily, well past the normal harvest time.
   People are much like tomato plants. Even the strongest ones need loving care, with words of praise and encouragement. Time is also a needed and useful element in maturity and harvest. The tomato plant, like the believer, has within the natural desire to bear fruit. The word of God sums it all up in these simple words… “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
   (This was taken from dad’s study book “Amazing Grace – God’s Power To Be”).

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