My grandmother’s large vegetable garden was a sight to behold. She stapled the little pictures on the seed packets to small sticks and placed them at the beginning of each group to identify the row’s content.
There was never any question that what she planted was exactly what would grow. Corn seed produced fine healthy corn on tall stalks. Tomato plants, whose seeds had been nurtured in the bottom part of milk cartons in the winter, gave forth red, juicy tomatoes. She used that obvious connection to teach me the Biblical principles paralleled in real life.
“Don’t you see.” She would ask in her gentle way, “we can only reap what we sow?”
“But Gran, I don’t know nothin’ about sewing. You mean on a machine?”
Sometimes, she had to make her point even more basic to reach my childish mush brain.
“Honey, s-o-w is a different word than the one you are thinking about. It means plant.”
“Well, if we plant a seed, what does reap mean?”
She always had an example. “Remember when the beans and corn and turnips are ready for picking and you help me to gather it in bushel baskets so I can get to canning and freezing so we’ll have plenty to eat come winter?”
“Uh huh.” I stared at her with the slightest crack of light pushing through the barricade to my understanding.
“Wouldn’t it be strange if we had spent all that time carefully placing those corn seeds just so far apart, and exactly deep enough, and then spent more time keeping out the weeds and watering and then when we went to bring in the harvest we found something strange -- like cotton or figs or maybe plastic fruit like you saw at the dime store?”
I laughed uproariously at the ridiculous picture she painted, but the lesson stuck. After she was sure I grasped the concept from the vegetable garden, she invested more time in planting the true seeds that must bear good fruit.
“If you treat others badly, how can you expect to be treated? If you break God’s commandments, which is sowing bad seed, what do you think will grow out of that sin?”
Every lesson was a parable that came right back to her garden. In the cool of the evening as we sat in the creaking swing watching lightening bugs, the smell of the bountiful supply springing from the rich earth permeated the air with promise.
When lunch of fresh green beans, fried okra, squash with onions and hot cornbread was almost ready, she would send me out to the garden to pick ripe tomatoes to be washed and sliced; no comparison to the hard, unappealing fake-tasting ones usually found in the grocery now. She knew what she had planted. She knew what I would pick and bring to the table. It was so simple.
Standing in the middle of those straight rows and inhaling the essence of the mixed medley of vegetables is a memory that stayed. It wasn’t until I was grown that I realized how it never had occurred to me as a child how that garden stayed so clean and beautiful to behold.
I was never awake when she arose every morning before the sun was fully up and went right to that quiet place to hoe every row, staying right on top of any weed that would dare to intrude on her crop. She knew how much fertilizer to use and how to keep visiting bunnies, birds, and bugs at bay. The sowing was important, but the maintaining was crucial to the reaping.
The disappearance of vegetable gardens, for most of the population, has taken with it a perfect visual aid that fosters understanding of Galatians 6:8.
*Do not be deceived. God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.
During World War II, when many foods were rationed, citizens were encouraged to plant Victory Gardens. Perhaps that is an idea whose time has returned, except this time the victory would be in the planting and teaching of a much-needed Spiritual Truth, and the reaping of its fruit.
The hard to reach just might see the light, or in today’s vernacular, “like…DIG it, man.”
*Scripture from NKJ version
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