This past Saturday, I went out to the garden to pick squash. By the time I was done, I had harvested 106 butternut squash-- from a single hill.
From about four plants, growing out of one square foot area that had basically overtaken most of the garden and more, I gathered up over 300 pounds of squash.
There were so many of them, I stopped using the wheelbarrow to haul them up the hill and went and got the tractor so I could put them in the bucket.
In among the squash, I also picked seven large beautiful pumpkins.
But I hadn’t planted any pumpkins.
All seven came from a single volunteer plant.
Earlier this year, I harvested 80 onions that averaged the size of a softball with the largest weighing in at 23 ounces.
At the same time I pulled the onions, I also harvested 214 shallots from a single row.
After that, I dug up about a hundred pounds of potatoes (from a single row) with the largest tipping the scales at 34 ounces.
Yes, boys and girls, that’s a single potato at over two pounds.
I also had an abundance of green peppers and the tomato plants have spread out to a double arm-span while giving up buckets and buckets of that glorious BLT-enabling fruit. (Choir of angels sings.)
I remember saying a prayer after planting in mid-May and asking the Lord to bless my humble garden with His glorious abundance.
Talk about prayers answered! HALLELUJAH!
Now, my garden is in an excellent location. A century ago, it was the shoreline of Jackson Lake, which was subsequently drained for farming. But this little chunk was never farmed as it was on the edge of woods. After I built my house here, several large elm trees died and (because I had just bought a tractor that could do it) I dug out the stumps.
When I dug out the stumps, about three or four feet down, I encountered the sand that had been the lakeshore long, long ago.
So, my garden is mostly very black, very fertile, very good soil with just enough sand mixed in so it drains reasonably well.
As a result, I haven’t had to fertilize my garden since I established it. And I didn’t use any herbicides or pesticides in it at all.
We’ve had an excellent growing season with above average growing degree days and above average rainfall in my area. Granted, there were some areas that got too much water and some crop (and property) damage from recent flooding, but the overall “big picture” has the USDA forecasting a record crop year.
So, yes, God gets the glory for creating the beautiful soil in my garden and this year’s excellent growing conditions.
But, God gave me the ability to do my part, too.
Years of gardening have taught me that my little piece of ground is going to yield abundantly because God will always do His part. It’s my choice as to whether that abundance will be glorious and wonderful fruit or scads and scads of noxious weeds.
And it’s that time right after the garden is put in, early in the growing season, when neglect and a desire to do something else will allow the weeds to set down deep roots and choke out the good and desirable crop.
Matthew 13 tells the parable of the sower, who spread seed on various types of ground. It’s one of the few parables Jesus explained afterward.
We all remember that some of the seed fell on the path, some fell on rocky ground, some fell among the thorns, and some fell on good ground.
But the sun shines and the rain falls on all four types of ground.
Jesus calls himself the Light of the World and the Living Water. His love shines on and waters us all each and every day in glorious abundance with his intention that we produce a glorious abundance of good fruit, to the praise of His glory.
He explains that the thorns that choke out the plants that should bear fruit are the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth.
And aren’t both of those things a lack of trust in God for what we need? Aren’t worry and striving after wealth, at their very root, a lack of faith that God will give us our daily bread and more?
When Jesus talks about faith, he again goes back to a garden analogy, saying that faith the size of a mustard seed can uproot trees and throw them into the sea (Luke 17:6) or pick up and move whole mountains. (Matthew 17:20)
So our job every day is to pull out the weeds of worry and doubt and greed that choke out our ability to produce the fruit God designed for us to yield up in abundance. We do our best when we recognize the weeds for what they are, uproot them and nurture and tend to growing the good plants of love and truth and mercy and joy and praise and faith in the One True God, for He is the God of Abundance.
Yes, the thorns are relentless. They never give us a day off, but faith can uproot them and cast them into the sea.
So, again I say, HALLELUJAH!
By the way, if anyone would like a free squash or three, I can help you out with that.
Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
your justice like the great deep.
You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house;
you give them drink from your river of delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light we see light.
Psalm 36: 5-9 NIV