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Waiting for the ripening

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We have tomatoes. We planted a container garden in early May and currently have two thriving tomato plants. The cherry tomato is nearly four feet tall, and the Romas have reached the three foot mark. Both plants are full of green tomatoes. Three weeks ago, my husband and I harvested two early-ripe red cherry tomatoes and ceremoniously ate them in anticipation of many more to come.

In addition to the tomatoes, we have some containers with herbs. The herbs have been pruned once already to prepare the plants to produce more. The cut leaves have been processed and frozen in small containers for future use.

Each morning, I go outside to give them a good watering to get them through the heat of the day. Once a week, I add some nutrients to the water. Once or twice a week, I cut off the lower-most leaves which have dried or wilted, and are no longer viable to the plants.

In the evenings, after work, we open the blinds to the east-facing patio and admire our little container garden. We marvel at the great potential which exists in each plant. We take great joy and care in tending to their needs and nurturing them. And we look forward to enjoying the outcome of our labor.

In John 15, Jesus describes the Father as the vinedresser who takes care of us in much the same way we care for our little garden. And without the root system and main stalk (Jesus) of our plants, the stems and leaves and flowers and fruit would be unable exist.

As a vinedresser, God cares for us. He is never far away. He keeps a close eye on us. And as followers of Christ, we are instructed to abide in Christ (the vine), and he will abide in us (the branches), so that we will be able to bear fruit for God's glory.

Despite the gardening analogy, God is much more than a container gardener. Once the season is over, the patio gardener will pull his plants, rinse out the containers and store them until next season. Or perhaps the gardener will fill the pots with fresh soil and grow a different vegetable for a different season.

The vinedresser's job is much different. The work continues with no regard to seasons. The vinedresser walks through his vineyard regularly, watching his crop grow, and tending to his plants' every need. Some years are easier years for the vinedresser while others might require more rigorous care. There are special needs during droughts or unusually rainy seasons. Even during the winter, when the vines become dormant, the vinedresser determines the proper time to carefully prune the vines in order to control the crop and balance the vine.

The next time you tend to your garden, think about how God is also tending to His garden, and he is always at it through every season, no matter what! When we experience the rainy season of life, God is there, our shelter. When the droughts come, He is there with water to quench our thirst. When the infestations and mold and predators threaten, God is ready to take them all on. And through Jesus, the vine, and God will be glorified through all of the fruit we will produce!

As container gardeners, we grow impatient as we wait on the ripening of our tomatoes. But God has patience which far surpasses ours, and He tenderly waits for us ripen for His glory.

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full." John 15:1-11

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