Have you ever seen a dead plant give fruit?
This summer my children and I made some raised garden beds and placed them on our backyard patio to grow some veggies and herbs. It was exciting to go through the process with them of not only growing things, but preparing the area and soil in which we wanted to grow. Planting the seeds, placing markers next to the rows with the names of the veggies and herbs we planted. Daily watering and plucking out any weeds that seem to grow up around them.
I saw the kids show such care for their plants. When a sign of life would spout of from the soil, they would shout with excitement and joy! Yelling, “Mommy!!!!, they are growing!!!!“.
There were times however, we would come across some spots where there would be no growth. Nothing! We would water the seed, we would watch the seed, make sure it had sunlight. Yet, no growth would take place. Those seeds would disregard and continue to care for those that showed signs of growth. It just so happened though, that when watering and caring for the ones that show signs of life, by default, those seeds that are dead would still receive care.
Toward the end of the season, we got some fruit from our hard work. One of our favorites though, were the cherry tomatoes. They were so good and sweet. I would often see the kids sneaking a couple here and there to eat, or try and feed them to the traveling critters in the neighborhood. Finally, the season was changing, and I thought we reached a point where we could go ahead and leave these plants be. The produce began to slow down and eventually we saw nothing coming on the plant. So, they would be left for dead, no more fruit expected to come from them. Yet, as I would sit inside my house, looking through the glass doors, I could see little buds showing on the stems of the tomato plants. But, I didn’t think much of it, as there was no way that they would grow beyond anything but that, just a bud.
Then one day, my little ones came running in the house and said, “MOOOOMMMY!!! The tomatoes are growing!!!“. I thought, to myself, “That’s impossible, we haven’t been watering them, and the stalks are withered, dry and dead. How is that possible?”. When I went outside to see them, it amazed me that the one little stalk left in the raised flower bed, was in fact, still yielding fruit. It was still giving off little cherry tomatoes. I couldn’t believe it when I saw it. When I looked at what the fruit was hanging on, I thought, this is just amazing. The plant looked pretty bad, the leaves had died, and the stalk was hunched over, but the fruit it was giving off was still sweet and beautiful. How is that possible, that something that appears to be dead, lifeless, can still give off a few more spouts of fruit?
This reminded me of a passage in scripture that talks about the VINE. John 15:1-6:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.”
I remember feeling as though the vine was done, and that the plants were of no value any more. Because the season was at an end, and because the weather was changing, they could not bear any more fruit. I was ready to move on from them, and so I forgot about them and considered them of no value. But, what I found to be interesting about what took place in the raised bed was something that challenged my theory of what was still valuable and still able to produce what I considered to be fruit. The truth was that I wasn’t an avid gardener and I really didn’t know the cycles or seasons well and what a true dead vine looked like. I took an amateur stand with this plant and chose to walk away when It didn’t produce when I thought it would, or in the time frame I thought it would. When I thought that I had gathered all from it that it could yield, I decided it was done for. Stopped watering it, stop caring for it. My husbandman duties ended because I was finished, but not because it was done yielding fruit.
Then it hit me…this plant, when I was done with it and left it behind, I no longer was watering it, but the rain and dew which came from the clouds and the morning air provided a moisture that seeped through to the roots and would feed the plant. It wasn’t a heavy water, but it was enough to allow it to give more springs of life, while looking as though it had reached an end.
This little plant taught me so many lessons about life. Ones that I think would be such a blessing for all of us to learn.
- A true husbandman knows and cares for his plants: They are his investment and he lives by this investment. He is acquainted with each one, and knows it because he has raised it from seed. He has learned to see life, even where there appears to be no life left. This takes dedication, time and effort. Also takes FAITH! Because what you see may in fact be a dead plant, but when you LOVE something or someone you have invested in, you would rather continue to nurture it until you are sure that the life is no longer there.
- Selfless Love: We can be trained to see worth in something based on the fruit we can get from it. When we don’t see fruit, we can choose to walk away from our given area of growth, our stalks, or plants, and choose to leave them behind. Yet, there are times in our lives when we have been as dead men. Living, but not really living, and contributing to life, not helping and not producing in the way God had intended. Yet, if those around us had given up on us, and left us for dead, where would we be.
- Life after death: There will come a time in my life when I will reach an end. When perhaps my physical life won’t be able to produce as much fruit as it use to. I will seem withered and done for. And yet, the truth is that the roots that we have planted here on this earth, will birth fruit far beyond when we leave this place. The worth of our lives goes far beyond what we are producing in times and seasons of plenty. In those moments when we seem as though we have reached the end of our producing stage, we can still yield fruit that will nurture and help others to grow and be fed.
The only way to do that is to abide in the VINE. Stay in Christ, remain in him and watch what He can do for us and for those around us, far beyond our reaping stages of life.
John 15:4-5 says, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”