Your Garden Keeps Growing
Good neighbors are hard to come by, but I was lucky to have one in Jerry. He lived next door to the parsonage when we moved in, and was quick to come over and introduce himself and his wife. He loved to play golf, take care of his yard, and work in his garden.
Gardening was one of his big passions. He had a large spot cleared where he grew all the staples of a retiree’s garden, things like tomatoes, squash, okra, green beans, and more. And he was always glad to share them with others. Too many times to count he showed up at a door with a bag full of fresh picked items. He shared at church, with all the neighbors, even with the nursing home. He put in the work, and let others enjoy the fruits (or vegetables) of his labor.
We had been neighbors for a few years when his wife got ill and passed away. Jerry still did those things he loved to do, but when I talked to him it didn’t seem like his heart was in it as much. Over time his health began to fail too. His yard wasn’t as neat as it used to be. But he still kept up with his garden. In spring he planted his staples: tomatoes, okra, peppers, and a few others. Over the summer he had a heart attack, and went to live with his son. He passed away eventually, and his family and church mourned him.
Life went on though. I have to see his house everyday. Days and then weeks passed after his death, and I watched something curious happen. His garden kept growing. Without his care there were more weeds than normal, but the tomatoes plumped and turned red, and the vines kept producing. Before the first frost my children and I gathers several baskets from his garden. The kitchen director from the nursing home behind his house did too. Even though Jerry was no longer alive, his garden kept growing.
I probably don’t have to draw the connection for you. All of us are planting gardens as we go through life, and those gardens continue to grow after we are gone. I daily reap the harvest of people who planted in my life, even though they have been gone from this life for decades or more. In God’s good mercy, the effects of our lives can be felt long after we are gone. It’s true of both the good things and bad things of life. We sadly also feel the negative effects of sin in our lives long after those who sinned against us are gone.
Last spring Jerry went out to plant a garden like he always did. He didn’t know that it would be his last time to plant, and he didn’t know he wouldn’t get to see the full harvest. As you go through life and plant seeds of goodness, kindness, mercy, and grace in people lives, you never know when your last planting will be. You might not get to see the result of it either, but you can be sure that your life will bear fruit long after you are gone.
Make sure and plant things that matter, things like the goodness and mercy of God. When we plant in the lives of others through discipleship, family, and church community we are continuing the work of those who planted in us. And when that harvest is reaped, all the glory will go to God, who keeps the garden growing even after our lives are over.