I am definitely not a farmer, but I used to garden a little bit. My grandfather (I called him Pawpaw), was a farmer; he raised beef cattle and he loved to garden. His garden was about an acre! He grew all kinds of stuff: okra, purple hull peas, string beans, tomatoes, squash, corn, and watermelons – quite a variety. His favorite was the watermelons and his life-long passion was to grow the perfect watermelon. He lived 10 miles north of Mississippi’s prime watermelon growing region, Smith County, but he figured that he should be able to grow a perfect melon even though he was outside of the perfect “zone.”
Every year he prepared the soil, planted the seeds, watered and watered and watered. Apparently, melons require a lot of water. He would prune the vines, pinch off blossoms after a fruit had appeared on a vine, carefully rotate the growing melon, move leaves about to provide the proper balance of sun and shade. He cared for his watermelons all with the hope of producing a sweet, juicy, flavorful melon with just the right texture to the flesh. He knew each individual vine and plant and knew which ones needed the most help and exactly what to do for each one. Pawpaw put so much time and effort into his watermelons because he loved watermelon. But he knew that he had to take extra special care and attention because he wasn’t growing his melons in the perfect soil of Smith County. He knew how good watermelon can be, but he also knew how, sometimes, a melon would just not be as good as it could be. He wanted every melon to be enjoyed to the fullest and he knew that each melon, when nurtured could be so much better than if they were left to grow untended.
Sounds a bit like how God tends to us, cares for us, and wants us to be the best that we can be so that we, and God, can enjoy our lives to the fullest. Like Pawpaw’s living outside of the perfect zone, we too live in a world that isn’t ideal for our easy growth into people who are perfectly pleasing to God. Sin, temptation, worldly distractions, divisions, and so much more all impact our growth like weeds and pests in the garden. God gives us special care to help us to be the perfect fruit of his creation.
Pawpaw worked hard in his garden, but he also had farmhands to help him under his expert guidance. We, the church, are God’s farmhands and under His guidance we help him care for each other and our neighbors so that we all can be perfectly sweet fruit for Him. Pawpaw knew that his melons needed more care, more attention than those grown in Smith County and God knows that we all need more care and attention than if we were still in the Garden of Eden. With nurture, everyone can be sweeter fruit for God.
So, when we see someone struggling with sin or any difficulty in life that would keep them from being the best that they can be, as God’s farmhands it is our privilege to tend this world, His less than perfect garden. Let us see what how sweet it can be.
A simple farmhand, Pastor Jim