Pastor's Corner: 'The Parable of the Tomatoes'
Last updated 9/22/2023 at 12:04pm
I'm not much of a gardener, let me make that clear. But last year I decided to at least give gardening a try. So I started out small and was encouraged by my moderate success. A few peas. A collection of lettuce from a netted garden box (to guard against those ravenous grasshoppers). But, oh, the tomatoes! After a summer's-worth of homegrown salads I had more of those juicy red gems than my family could eat.
So my ventures in gardening grew into explorations in canning. And lo and behold we had a few jars of tomatoes for a handful of winter recipes. I thought, this is alright! So if I just double my tomato plants, I could have enough tomatoes to stock the pantry next year.
And that's just what I did. This spring I doubled my planting, because after all, I'm an official gardener now. The peas were crisp. The lettuce, well I may have gotten carried away with my overcrowded box of pre-cut salad. But, oh, those tomatoes! Those decadent magnificent factories put on enough snack-sized scarlet beauties to make any red on green Christmas décor a delight. Needless to say, I've been gorging myself on this summer's bounty.
With much to spare!
However, life has a way of interrupting plans and as my schedule fills with various activities and distractions, last year's vision of pantry shelves bowing beneath the weight of hot-packed delights has been fading away to the hopes for next year. So what to do with all those tomatoes?
Well, I decided, rather than hoarding my bounty, perhaps this would be a good year for generosity. So the containers bursting with my bounty and taking up space in the refrigerator were doled out into baggies and distributed. But the strange thing is, the fridge has yet to go bare. As quickly as I can share my harvest I return to my garden to find my tomato plants working overtime. Those red treasures are surrounded by clusters of green pearls and yellow blooms just waiting for their time to shine.
What love the Good Lord has lavished upon me!
And what a beautiful picture of God's economy. Luke 6:38 says, "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap."
In God's economy, giving results in receiving. Our God of the sowing is also the God of the reaping.
"Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven."
If there is a lesson to be learned from my tomato plants, it's that the more that is plucked and given away, the more that is grown. We cannot harvest what we have not planted, but if we share what we receive, more will be given. The earth and its surprising provisions are all elaborate gifts received from a God who is pleased to give all the more when we gratefully receive what He has to offer.
Our Lord, Jesus Christ, came to give life more abundant. He is love unending. Even in seasons of hardship and scarcity, He is our bread so that whoever goes to Him shall never go hungry and those who believe in Him shall never thirst. He sees every gift of charity and yields back grace upon grace.
So do not be afraid to share generously, whatever good that has grown in your life, and experience the blessings God wants to pour upon you in return.
Theresa Danley is commissioned lay pastor at Milk River Churches, comprising First Presbyterian Church of Havre, Presbyterian Church of Chinook, Chinook United Methodist Church, Chinook American Lutheran Church