The Little Tomato That Could
I am here to tell you that growth wants to happen - life wants to happen. Sometimes the best thing we can do is wait and be patient. How do I know this? Because of a volunteer tomato plant in my yard.
Last summer, a friend gave me a few volunteer plants from her garden that I potted into 5 gallon buckets along the garage wall in my back yard. There were red cherry tomatoes and yellow tomatoes shaped like bowling pins. I wondered all summer why I wasn't getting a full harvest from them. Then my wife Carly informed me that she had been eating the ripe tomatoes each time she walked by!
This summer, it went from really cold to really hot really quickly, and I didn't get to plant anything. However, a few weeks ago, the lawn care guy came by and mowed the lawn. I was frustrated because he didn't weed-eat well enough in the empty flower bed. He left a massive plant behind at the base of one of the trellises! I started to get a little angry when I noticed the distinct groups of little yellow flowers at one end of the plant - it was a tomato plant! It had grown wild and unruly in all directions, with plump green cherry tomatoes all over it. I couldn't believe my eyes!
Suddenly I thought, "Wow, Life is persistent, isn't it?". Growth isn't waiting for us to tell it what to do, it happens naturally. That unlikely tomato plant has brought so much hope into my heart. It has reminded me of the forces out there that are so much greater than myself. Here's the most important part: I am not responsible for the growing, I am responsible for the nurturing.
If a gardener plants a seed, do they dig it up again a few days later to see if it is growing? No. They give it what it needs to grow, and they wait patiently for the growth to happen. The same is true for the growth of our little congregation. It is easy to get wrapped up in all the hard work required to take care of the business of a church, and to exercise our own will upon the church. The growth is God's to do, not ours. We must focus on the nurturing that needs to happen. What is the church equivalent of soil, water, sun, fertilizer?
In the case of the volunteer tomato plant, I didn't do much nurturing. I merely provided a space for it. I didn't prune it or trellis it. I didn't fertilize it. Can you imagine how much more fruit there would be if I had?