Tending the Garden by Stuart Revercomb

This summer I planted a very nice garden on my land in Callaway. I had two rows of carrots, four rows of lima beans, six rows of pole beans, four different kinds of peppers, two rows of obligatory tomatoes (six varieties), as well as cucumbers, squash, cantaloupes and watermelons taking up the balance of the 15′ x 40′ foot space. It was quite the congregation!

As all the seeds and plants went in I must say that my confidence was high. My garden had thrived in recent years and I expected this one to do the same or even better.

In the past I had perfected weed control using the black biodegradable covering that you simply roll out, but this past year a master gardener had told me that I really didn’t need to do that as long as I kept up a weekly regimen of light hoeing to keep the weeds down.

“Hmmm,” I thought, “That’s the ways the pros do it and I won’t have to purchase, roll out and then pull up all that covering in the fall. I’ll give that a go.”

I also decided that I really didn’t need to add fertilizer this year – last year’s plants had done so well. Here was another place I could avoid the extra cost and effort.

The best laid plans . . .

Between unexpected and planned obligations having to do with children’s schedules, a continuing education class I am enrolled in and “other general duties” I soon found that I had very few Saturdays open to devote to the garden. In fact, I was only keeping up with my weeding schedule maybe half the time.

Additionally,  I was having a hard time managing my watering schedule. Weather reports kept predicting thundershowers so I held off on several occasions, but the rains never seemed to come. I was only managing to get intermittent waterings in and by July I could tell they had likely been too far apart.

The garden wasn’t looking so good.

I struggled on for another several weeks and by the time some old friends from Richmond (who happened to be amazing gardeners) visited for the weekend in late July, the garden was pathetic. In fact, it was worse than pathetic.  It looked like a neglected over-grown weed lot in suburban Detroit, boxed in by a tidy six foot tall lattice fence. It was awful.

Al and Carolyn laughed heartily as I tried to explain my “lack of Saturdays” dilemma. It was embarrassing. Not only that, but later on that weekend when we visited them at their home on Smith Mountain Lake they sent us home with a cornucopia of fresh vegetables grown from THEIR garden back in Richmond.

Woe was I.

There were, of course, some lessons to be learned in this failure.. Number one for me was that sometimes we need to stick to a plan that works well for us. My friend’s “light hoeing” technique was likely a wonderful approach for a retiree who happens to be a Master Gardener, but for my scheduling needs the groundcover was clearly the way to go.

But perhaps more importantly, were the basic and fundamental reminders about life.  If we want our “garden to grow” it is going to take the required amount of time to work it, nutrients to sustain it and abundant water to allow it to do so. Skimping out on any or some part of all three is bound to lead to “a crop” that is less than hoped for or a failure altogether.

In the context of church health and growth the lessons are, of course, obvious as well. For without “time to work it,” (our “physical efforts / presence) nutrients to sustain it (our financial support / presence)  and abundant water (God’s grace and presence) the odds of any meaningful results are slim to none. It takes all three to “produce produce” as it were and the same is true in Discipling others for Christ.

I believe we have a very good garden planned at Peace Church and hopefully you do at your place of worship as well. We should all be thankful that good seed is going in and that some have even begun to sprout. God will certainly water our efforts with His grace. All that’s left is for us to do our part in time, talents and resources.

Here’s to The Harvest.

Stuart Revercomb is the Minister at Peace Presbyterian Church on Cloverdale Road. Visit them at peace-church.net