Yesterday I had a marathon session of weed pulling. We have a rock river that runs through the width of our entire backyard. It was built with one purpose: to drain the water that runs off the hill into our backyard when it rains so the rain does not destroy our yard. I believe the river has chosen another purpose for itself: to provide an environment for all weeds who are not permitted to grow anywhere else in the yard.
I had worked at clearing the weeds from half of the river about a week ago. I figured it wouldn’t take me long to finish the last half yesterday. Oh my! Two hours later I finished clearing the weeds from the river. Of course, I also had to weed eat the old play area side of our backyard while I was out there. This is the area of our yard that used to be covered in mulch and now we are trying to grow grass, but in essence we are really succeeding at growing–you guessed it– more weeds. So I was back there with our new weedeater just whacking those weeds down, feeling pretty powerful. There is nothing like bringing down something you despise to give you a little power rush, when I saw the vine.
Back in 2008, I read Barbara Kingsolver’s book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. In this book, Barbara shares how she and her family left their home in Arizona and moved to one of the Carolina’s to her husband’s old family farm. They decided they would embark on a year journey of raising all the food they would eat, or buy it locally. If it couldn’t be grown on their farm, or within 100 miles, they wouldn’t eat it. I loved reading this book and watching how her family changed in beautiful ways. It inspired me to try my hand at growing some food for my family to eat. (On a side note, this is a really great book and I highly recommend it if you have any interest at all in leaving less of a footprint on the earth and living naturally.) We bought a grapevine. We live in Missouri. People all around us grow grapes, have vineyards, and make wine. I didn’t want to make wine (I have enough horror stories of doing that from growing up. That held NO interest.) I did want to eat grapes. So, I talked my husband into buying this vine so we could be like Barbara’s family and grow our own food.
I babied this vine after we planted it. I wouldn’t let kids within a five-foot radius of it. I watered it daily. I inspected it, talked to it, even sang to it. Nothing. Zilch. Nada. No grapes. I continued this behavior for two more years. Nothing. Zilch. Nada. Still no grapes. I finally gave up. The vine continued to grow, not big, but it grew, but I stopped watching it, stopped providing water for it–I let God handle that responsibility, and pretty much ignored it. Until yesterday.
As I was whacking my weeds, feeling like Athena, the goddess of war, something caught my eye.
Grapes! My vine had finally born fruit! Seven years later. I was thrilled! Ecstatic! Joyous! Cause for celebration! I immediately knew the forum I would share this amazing occurrence with–it was Saturday after all. Time to celebrate with Ruth.
Then I went to church, and the message was on sin. The speaker spoke on Luke 13 and the parable of the fig tree.
Then Jesus told this story: “A man planted a fig tree in his garden and came again and again to see if there was any fruit on it, but he was always disappointed. Finally, he said to his gardener, “I’ve waited three years, and there hasn’t been a single fig! Cut it down. It’s just taking up space in the garden.”
The gardener answered, ” Sir, give it one more chance. Leave it another year, and I’ll give it special attention and plenty of fertilizer. If we get figs next year, fine. If not, then you can cut it down.”
God helped me see last night that I am that fig tree, or grape vine. He planted me with high hopes of producing fruit for His kingdom. And He waits for my fruit. But unfortunately, I like to be my own boss, and sometimes the choices I make don’t produce the fruit I was supposed to create. God has been nudging me to get back into serving in my church. I’m not totally past the hurt the last “serving in my church created”, but God has made it clear He has waited long enough. So to hear a message about bearing fruit, was timely. Jesus is my gardener and He doesn’t give up on me. He waters and tends me. And with His love and His patience, I can bear fruit once again for His kingdom in my local church, just like my silly grapevine.
With Him, all things are possible. And that is reason to celebrate.