I’m still weeding strawberries. It’s mid-afternoon and I’m winding my way down the home-stretch of the final row, wiggling back and forth between resting on my ankles and knees. I’m sore and tired. To offset the mundane, occasionally I glance over at the rows of onions, lettuce, and basil behind me and see a weed or two, and –even though no one instructed me specifically to do so– I reach into the well-turned soil and snatch up a weed, root and all, and toss it into my little basket. I look back to the lush interwoven cluster of the strawberry patch almost disgusted at how easily the other soil was to tend. Remember, the soil along the outer perimeter hasn’t been turned in probably a season or two.
As I do this, I notice my foot is dangerously close to a large onion, one of many. Weeks before, we transplanted the young plants from planters into the garden, watered them, and watched them grow. The head agriculture guy –let’s call him Tom– spent quite a bit of time planning how the garden was going to be organized; he purchased the seeds, planted them, then at the right time, brought them to the Center for us to plant and tend.
But that’s only half of it.
Tom takes the tools to the workroom and welds them when they break; he sharpens them on the grinder; he invents tools to perform specific functions; carefully decides how to use the chicken fertilizer to benefit the crops; repairs the rips and tears in the plastic of the greenhouse, and so much more. He’s invested quite a bit in this process already, and here I am as a volunteer almost carelessly damaging the food.
It was then when I believe the Holy Spirit whispered another lesson to me: what if I didn’t like onions?
I mean, let’s be honest, we all have veggies we cannot stand, don’t we? Imagine you’re in the middle of a garden tending things you like and all the while behind you is this vegetable you could damage without a second thought.
Jesus said we will know false prophets by their fruits. Good trees can only bear good fruit and bad trees cannot bear good fruit (Mt. 7:15-20). Luke, in his account, noted, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Lk. 6:43-45).
As Christians, have you ever wondered if we spend too much time listening to the fruit critics instead of judging the fruit for ourselves? Let me explain. There are certain Christian news sources out there that spend a significant amount of time “investigating” the fruit of various gardens and giving the critical analysis of their conclusions in their latest book, Youtube video, or podcast.
But what if they don’t like those particular trees to begin with? I mean, what if they have beef with the veggies? (Pun totally intended). What if –like my own children in their inexperience or misperceptions– they simply never gave that fruit or veggie a chance because it looked yucky? What if I glanced back at my foot lingering dangerously close to onions and thought, ‘Pff! Who likes those anyway?’ and commenced to damaging potential good food, capable of producing nutrients in someone’s life simply because I personally do not care for it? More importantly, how would Tom feel about it if he were watching from a distance?