I am not a gardener. I really want to be, but I fail every time I try. My grandpa had this huge garden that would produce so many strawberries, zucchini, melons, and green beans every summer that he had to give buckets away because he couldn’t possibly eat it all. I thought I’d be able to grow a garden just as easily – surely it was genetic! – but that has not been the case.
For several years, I tried to grow a garden. Or even a single potted plant, in less industrious years. One summer I planted 11 rows of sweet potatoes, several kinds of peppers, and a handful of other vegetables. The one and only thing I had to show for it was one – count it, ONE – deformed jalapeño. And I picked it too late so it wasn’t even completely green!
I know people who have these amazing gardens in their backyards without even trying, so much produce at their disposal that they end up tossing a lot of it. I, on the other hand, can’t seem to get the hang of gardening to save my life, even when I put forth a lot of effort.
So often I feel the same way in life. I plant seed after seed after seed with nothing to show for it. I teach class after class. I give encouragement after encouragement. I spend hours or years devoting my life to things with no visible results, save for an occasional misshapen jalapeño.
And, let’s face it, a misshapen jalapeño isn’t exactly the intended outcome. It’s almost more discouraging than harvesting nothing at all, because it just seems like a depressing reminder of another #fail, a far cry from the results I had in mind and the vision that motivated me to plant the seed in the first place.
But in life there are many seasons. Sometimes the planting season can last years before the harvest season finally comes. Sometimes the deformed jalapeño is just a small taste of something better to come; it tides you over until the true harvest arrives and gives you hope that it will indeed arrive.
If you sow, you WILL reap. It might not be right away. It probably won’t be when you want it to. It might take months or years or even decades. But the harvest will come.
There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth:Ecclesiastes 3: 1-2 MSG
A right time for birth and another for death,
A right time to plant and another to reap
The year after my deformed jalapeño harvest, I successfully grew three normal-looking jalapeños.
The next year I got a few strawberries.
The produce was really rolling in now!
Okay, so I have yet to experience any impressive yield when it comes to gardening, but hey, at least I’ve had a few things to show for my efforts!
I don’t think my days of gardening are over, in a literal sense or in life. I know eventually I’ll reap a crop of vegetables and of victories that make all the hard labor worth it. Every seed planted. Every weed pulled. Every time I went out of my comfort zone. Every hour I devoted to some menial task that served a greater purpose.
It all pays off. Hard work pays off. Perseverance pays off. Every seed planted pays off.
Someday, I’ll have a garden full of jalapeños along with a list of triumphs that were a long time in coming to serve as physical reminders that if I sow diligently, I will reap eventually. I may not see it yet, but I believe that no seed planted goes unharvested.
God is the ultimate Gardener. He prunes things out of our lives to make room for better blessings and bigger harvests. He gives us hope and tides us over as we wait in the meantime, offering glimpses of what is to come on a bigger scale. Really, he’s in charge of the results – we’re just here to partner with him, plant what he says to plant when he says to plant it, and be obedient as we await the season of harvest.
Don’t give up. Keep planting those seeds as God leads you. The results will come later, but they are directly affected by the seeds you sow now. Do your best, have faith in God’s timing, and keep hoping. Even when you can’t see the victory ahead, it’s there, drawing nearer every day. You will reap what you sow, and if you continue to be faithful in the sowing, you will be amazed at how much greater the harvest is – beyond what you could have ever done on your own – when you finally get to see it in person.