So, I was recently given an appreciation gift. During the month of May, we celebrate Teacher Appreciation. Usually, we get little gifts like sweets and trinkets, and things that last for the day. But this year, I think a lot of us were excited to receive…tomato plants. Yep, tomato plants. They were temporarily placed in plastic cups for us to take home and plant pronto so that they could grow and provide us with fresh tomatoes during the summer months. I thought it was a great gift. In fact, when they announced that there were lots of tomato plants left over and we could get more, I went back and got more. So, I have my five little tomato plant seedlings in plastic cups.
I had good intentions. Good intentions of planting them right away, that weekend, …pronto, so that they would not wilt and be wasted. But,…they’ve been neglected and have been sitting on my back deck. I’ve watered them occasionally and they’ve done alright. I’ve talked to my son about building a small garden with some of the barn wood slats he has…but the clock kept ticking and my plants kept sitting.
Until last night. Last night I went out on the deck and , well, lets just say, they didn’t look so great. The reality of neglect was plain to see. So I gave myself a little inward look of consternation and hurried to get water. And this morning? I had beautiful healthy-looking plants standing straight and tall in their little plastic cups. Four beautiful plants that is. One, well, it’s not so beautiful, and it’s not so healthy, and it seems to be deciding whether or not it’s going to survive.
And as I looked at those plants this morning, all I kept thinking about was revival. How we all need revival of sorts. We need refreshment of our spirit, renewing of our minds, rejuvenation of our bodies. We need it desperately…daily, but it’s so very easy to neglect. It’s easy to neglect until we see it clearly because, like my little tomato plants last night, we can appear to be doing pretty alright. We’re pushing through, we’re handling things, we’re facing the day. But one day, the cumulative effect of neglect can stare us right in the mirror, and we look like a pathetic little plant who can’t get water for itself and is so reliant on another to care for it.
So, I’m glad that the four other plants are doing well. But I’m so thankful for this pitiful little plant because it reminded me that if things are neglected too much or too long, they might not bounce back. And if they do? It still might be a long road to recovery. As I sat on the deck this morning, I listened to the birds (my loud little mama bird from the post the other day is still the loudest one in the neighborhood, mind you!) And I read the scriptures. And I drank my coffee in the stillness of the morning, and thanked God for the blessings of the week. I prayed and remembered His goodness in my life. And like those little tomato plants, I felt as though my spirit was just bouncing back to life, being refreshed and renewed.
Jeremiah 31:25 says, “I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.” God’s presence is like water to the soul. We need it, but we may not know how much we need it until we’re lacking in that time of immersing ourselves in the Word. And we are so blessed to have access to that Spring. ANY time. We can call on His name. ANY time. That little plant is in a predicament because it can’t go to it’s own water source. It’s reliant on the gardener (me…which is so not a good thing for that poor little plant). But I don’t have to wait for any externals. I have access through Christ to the refresher of my soul at any point in time. And that’s a good good thing that I’m so thankful for.
And here’s the thing. Wilting tomato plants don’t bear fruit. They live and die without impact. But thriving plants? They bear fruit. Lots and lots of fruit. Fruit is there to be enjoyed, to nourish, to make seeds to bear lots more plants and lots more fruit. But if there’s no care, no tending that garden, well, the process for my little tomato plant will stop right there. So it is with us. To be able to give, we need to receive. To be replenished, refreshed, renewed. Thankful that God is right there at a moment’s notice and before to provide all the we need. Some of us might bounce back quickly like my four healthy standing-tall tomato plants. Others, well, they might need a little more time and tender care before they bounce back. But if I being the lousy gardener that I am am so moved to care for this little tomato plant, I ‘m thinking that God cares a bit more for us than I do for the plant…and that He will revive those who but ask. All through His Word, it tells us so. So thankful for that.
So am hoping for tomatoes this summer.Lots and lots of tomatoes. And I’ll try to be a better gardener to these poor little plants with that goal in mind. But I want to grow more than tomatoes this summer. I just need to tap in to the Source, and be a better gardener of my soul. Tomato plants are designed to bear tomatoes. I’m designed to bear fruit as well. Just need to tap in to the resources of my Master Gardener to be able to thrive to bear whatever fruit He’s designed me to bear. We were designed to bear fruit. We don’t create it. Love that. That way, He gets the glory, and I get to be part of the story…in my own little tomato plant sort of way.
“I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” Ephesians 3:1-21
P.S. Isn’t that an amazing passage?! Love it. “How wide, how long, how high, how deep His love is.”..May our roots grow deep, our branches reach wide, and our seeds’ influence be long as we tap in to the all consuming love of Christ.