Gardening can be a humbling process. It amazes me how little help my garden actually needs from me to grow. Oh, it certainly helps when I water, when I tug away away weeds and clip off dead leaves, when I loosen the soil so the water can seep in more deeply, when I spoon coffee grounds around my tomato plants. That time and sweat I pour into the garden helps nurture it and make space for it to grow. But even when I don’t put all that effort into caring for it, the garden keeps on growing in spite of me.
This month I neglected the garden for several weeks, watering only sporadically and letting the weeds grow rampant. My attention was mostly limited to a run-by glance on my way out the door to work.
Even so, the garden grew. And grew. And grew some more. Plants doubled, tripled, quadrupled in size. Flowers unfurled, eventually falling away to make space for firm green fruits emerging beneath them. Bright zinnias blossomed. Beans multiplied under the shade of their leaves. Our tomato plants grew so large they began toppling over.
In eight weeks it went from this…
Even in the midst of my neglect, we found ourselves with more greens than we could eat. We made salads and pestos and sandwiches and pastas with greens and still gave away bags full to friends.
It reminds me of something that Ben Pasley said when he spoke at the Boiler Room last week, about how a tomato doesn’t need to be told how to be a tomato. It has the DNA of a tomato planted inside it already, contained in that initial tomato seed. It doesn’t need to be told to grow into a tomato. When given the soil, water, and care it needs, it will natural grow into what it was already designed to be. He used the picture of a tomato growing as an analogy for how we grow into our sonship and in God. As believers, filled with the Holy Spirit, we already have the DNA of the Father in us. It is inevitable that we will grow into His likeness, from that seed planted in us (though it helps when we weed and water and fertilize that seed).
This summer, as our garden has grown, blossomed, and burst into fruit despite my neglect, I can see ways that God is drawing Derek and I into our sonship, too, despite our distraction and struggles. God has been reminding me that our continued growth and restoration as His children as inevitable as the tomatoes emerging out in our garden.