I'm not who I was.
It’s no secret that I didn’t inherit my family’s bright green thumb for gardening. I wouldn’t call it ENTIRELY brown… more like a camo-khaki greenish-brown that performs at minimum in order to hold onto a wee bit of life… just enough to say “I’m not dead… yet.”
So when I saw those hanging bags from which one can attempt the growth of produce on clearance for $1, my thought was not “Wow! What wonderful vegetables I will grow!” My thought was “Seems like this could be a cheap activity for family night. If something happens to grow, that’s just a bonus.” I mean, what could be more fun than scooping and dumping dirt?
Our tomato plant seemed to grow well at first, but it has become diseased and, although the foliage has continued to branch out, it has become gnarled & sickly and it hasn’t produced any fruit. The other bag wasn’t a one-planter. It was made with multiple holes for growing smaller items such as green peppers and okra, which we planted in the top tiers. Against my better judgment, just to see what would happen, I planted zucchini in the bottom… a plant which takes up way too much space for the inverted growing bag on its own, let alone in a group with other veggies. I just wanted to see what would happen, as I didn’t anticipate much success anyway. I put the spare zucchini plant in some
vacant neglected soil behind the house just so I would have a comparison. Because I’m kind of a nerd like that.
Initially, I had 3 zucchini plants in the bottom of the bag, but even an almost-brown-thumbed person such as myself could see how these misplaced items were sucking the life out of the other plants. I almost simply discarded them, but I decided to transplant them instead next to the other zucchini plant in the ground, which seemed to actually be doing alright.
After the removal of the misplaced plants, the plants that were meant to be there became healthier. And the one remaining zucchini did in fact produce something edible.
However, its growth was stunted. After many long days, it was obvious that this zucchini had done all of the growing it could do in its present environment. I brought it inside to join the ground-grown zucchini for our dinner.
You might be a pastor’s wife if you see life application in your zucchini growth.
I have been that little squash. I have been placed in a box that wasn’t meant to contain me long-term. It’s not that boxes are all bad. Boundaries are beneficial when appropriately placed. It’s not that my company had been bad, it’s just that being too close together for too long of a time, we had held each other back. It had taken every ounce of my strength, an absolutely exhausting effort, just to eek out the tiniest bit of growth and productivity. And in the end, I could only grow so far in that place.
I have been the ground-grown zucchini: the one that was put in a favorable position from the get-go and was able to thrive with little effort.
How does the little squash plant go from being malnourished and underdeveloped to healthy? It can’t remain where it is being suffocated by its environment (and in turn, also becoming the suffocater of others who ARE indeed meant to be where it isn’t). If you are wondering about the transplanted zucchini, they have grown a lot, but still haven’t produced any zucchini. I am positive they would if I attended to them more carefully, and they still may, but they are having to work much harder and longer than the zucchini that started out in the right place.
That’s usually how it goes when I step outside my box into a bigger one. On my own, I may still be better off than I was by default of environment. But if I really want to flourish, it will still take hard work, not only on my part, but on the part of others. Transplanted life requires the care of external influence… not necessarily by ALL of of the capable caregivers, for if this particular season, location, and ministry is not what they are purposed for in that time, it will once again result in suffocation for both parties. There is such a thing as being over-fed and it results in becoming sick. Still, I need someone(s) (the right ones) to water me, to guide me & to prune me when God guides them to it. When the gardener is obedient to the giving and the garden is open to the receiving, the growth is exponential. Fruit is produced. The taker becomes the giver.
It’s true for zucchini. It’s true for the church.
Sometimes you’re the starving squash. Get out of your suffocating little box and surround yourself with positive influence and room to grow.
Sometimes you may be the starver squash (of yourself or others). Cease striving. Be still. Listen to and obey the voice of God. Be at peace and be a peace maker. Go where God tells you to go and do what God tells you to do, but don’t heap on your own requirements, activities, or impose your own personal will.
Sometimes you’re the gardener. Sacrificially pour into the lives of others that which is beneficial for their spiritual growth, nourishment & refinement, for the glory of God.
Sometimes you’re the produce. When you are fed what is properly nourishing, receive it. Don’t reject it. Make it useful. Don’t be afraid to grow.
Don’t settle for “I’m not dead… yet.” LIVE.