Fruit of the Vine

When I was kindly given two tomato plants last spring by a co-worker, I decided to have a go and try to grow tomatoes. Now, I’m a city girl. I don’t like dirt, sweat, animals, or being in the middle of nowhere. As such, I live in a condo with my husband. Since we don’t have a lot of free garden space, I decided to plant the tomatoes in a large pot on the back patio. An expert gardener at church told me about “grow bags”, so I ordered a pack online.

When they arrived, I didn’t have a lot of extra soil, so I plonked both plants into one grow bag. I knew they would get tall, so I also bought a tomato cage and even some fertilizer. I was now a real gardener. 

As the months and hot days of summer rolled on by, I was faithful to water, fertilize and stake the plants. I was excited to see small flowers develop. I was even more excited when I realized the flowers formed the fruits themselves!  

I was worried about two things: enough room in the bag for the roots as the plant had gotten taller than me; and enough water during our upcoming week away.  

Our trip to Lake Michigan came and went. As we returned home, my first instinct was to check on my plant. It looked pathetic. It was so wilted it had diminished at least a foot in height. I spent the next week trying to revive it. After about 3 days, the plant started looking like its old perky self! 

A few weeks later, I saw little green tomatoes emerging! I was so excited. Soon, some of the tomatoes turned yellow, then orange, and then red. As the branches grew heavy with fruit, I added more support and cut back branches that had no flowers or fruit to make more room.  

It was finally time to pick my first fruit from the vine! It came off quite easily. I inspected it with great admiration, only to see the skin underneath it was black, deformed, and rotten. In despair, I threw the tomato into the nearby woods.  

Luckily, the next batch of fruit was red, ripe, sweet, and lovely, just very small, and these were not the cherry tomato type. The subsequent tomatoes were healthy and delicious, albeit still quite small. 

I have pondered this tomato growing experience and it has taught me several spiritual lessons that I’d like to share:

1. The size of the pot determines the size of the fruit. We will only produce what we have the capacity to believe. If our faith and our thinking remain small, our lives will produce only the small things we believe we can do. God had promised us wide, open spaces of abundance! Let’s not limit the roots of our faith to fit into bags or pots.  

2. A few days of drought can do damage, but deep watering restores. This is why we need daily watering and nourishment from the Word and the Holy Spirit. Extended time away from those sources will be visible in our lives. But once we return to the true Living Water, we are refreshed and revived once again.  

3. Even if a plant produces rotten fruit at first, it can later produce a sweet harvest. We may have gotten a rough start in our life, family, ministry, or career, but that doesn’t mean we are useless and fruitless. As we mature in Christ and transform our thinking with the Word, God will work things out for good in our lives.  

4. We have Divine Gardener who is faithful to lovingly nourish, support and even prune us as needed. God is happy to be our Source of life. When we are dry, He refreshes. When we are weak, He makes us strong. When we are weary, He revives. All we need to do is welcome and receive His care. We are invited to be careless in the care of God.