As a gardener, I know from experience that one growing season is not the whole story. The average annual heirloom tomato produces proven seeds -- seeds worth saving and sharing. The sprawling strawberry only produces fruit in the second year -- some varieties produce two harvests in one season. The apple tree often bears delicious fruit because of grated stock -- grafting gives stronger roots or wider variety of fruit. The grape vine grows about 6' a growing season, and must be pruned back to a pitiful stub to continue producing fruit -- left unpruned, it will fail to produce as much fruit. Every gardener lives for the harvest. One growing season is never the whole story.
It should be the same way for Christ followers. We should live with the end in mind -- eternity together with God on the renewed earth.
God's Word is often referred to as a seed, and our hearts are the soil.
What seeds from the past year have been memorized and really saved into my heart?
How did I share these seeds with others?
Spiritual fruit is the living proof of authentic Christ following and the Holy Spirit alive in me.
Was enough fruit produced to benefit more than my own family?
How did I rely on God as my strong root?
Pruning takes out weak or unfruitful branches; it enhances the natural beauty of a tree and allows for better growth. Jesus described God the Father as a gardener who prunes and cleans up the branches to bear more fruit.
What has God asked me to leave behind this past year?
Where has God honed me and my friends, as we live as a community on mission?
As a gardner, I cannot plan or work a garden into blooming and bearing. I cannot simply see the row or transplant right in front of my face. Waiting on a tomato plant to set fruit instead of heading to the grocery store grows my patience. Standing back and observing, using the 'unproductive' winter to reflect, and trusting that the original Gardener will bring rain and sprout seeds helps bring me outside of me. I could let professionals take care of everything. But the original Gardener, God the Father, wants to give each of us so much through the process each season. Living wrapped up in myself, my education and career goals, my house and stuff, my immediate family just rings hollow compared with living with the end in mind.
What kind of legacy will you pass on? Who will benefit?