(So very sorry for not keeping up with this blog, but ironically, the very subject of this blog has made it impossible for me to do. 🙂 In other words, since my last entry, my garden has consumed all my energies so I haven’t been able to write more. Some days all I accomplish is sitting there watching things grow because I’m so tired. I’ve made a list of topics, though, for when I have enough energy to write.)
First there was a late frost. Then the rains. And now the bugs — and the heat. It seems each day brings a new challenge when you’re working with a garden.
As you can see, my container garden has grown from April (in the top picture) to the beginning of July (in the bottom picture). None of this happened overnight, but was a steady pace of small increments, one container at a time.
Some of the plants, like the peppers in the front, started indoors long before the weather allowed me to take them outside (a definite advantage of container gardening!), but even an indoor start didn’t stop them from problems in their growth. A round of aphids and then spider mites (evidently hitchhikers on some plants I brought in when it started to get cold last fall) came close to ending the lives of those three pepper plants on the left. (Neither insect probably could have gotten a foothold if I wouldn’t have been too sick to check my plants for a couple of weeks. Drat the flu!!)
With my limited energy, I look at this garden now and marvel at how far it has come and I credit most of that to God’s creative genius in giving plants the will to survive and to produce fruit. I also think about how much of my own work has gone into it. I’ve had to remove weeds, replant seedlings, carry water to the containers at least once a day (container plants need tons of water!), and trim off the old leaves to send the plant’s energy to the new growth.
In our day and age, if something happens to my garden, I can simply go to the grocery store and buy food to sustain me. Sure, the whole point of me growing a garden was so I didn’t have to go to the grocery, but at least I have that to fall back on. Now, imagine a world with no grocery stores, where the only food you have is what you’ve grown and stored yourself or what you can find on the land. Bugs are no longer a nuisance, but a threat to your own survival.
When God asked His people to give Him the first fruits from their land, He was asking them to take a serious step of faith, a step that laid their very life on the line. By the time the first fruit was ready, most of their stored food was most likely gone. God was asking them to put their needs aside and give Him what they might have desperately needed themselves. He was asking them to trust Him, to show that they believed God would provide the food they needed if they gave Him the first of it.
I think it’s hard for us these days to understand the sacrifice God was asking them for with the first fruits offerings. Oh, yes, I eagerly wait for the first of each item to be ready to sample, the first radish, the first lettuce, the first Swiss chard, the first zucchini, the first watermelon, but if I give it to someone else, it’s not going to mean I will have to starve until the next one comes on. In Bible times, though, that’s what it might have meant.
I’m not sure if we can capture the feeling those Israelites had when they took that first fruit they’d been working so hard for and gave it up to God instead of using it for themselves, but we can remember what God asked of them and their willingness to believe He would provide for them if they put Him first. What might God be calling us to now, an act of sacrifice on our part that will show Him we are going to give up our own rights to something and offer it to Him with no strings attached? Maybe as we look at our gardens, we can remember to give Him the first as a sign of our trust in His goodness and provision for us.
“Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the LORD your God.” Exodus 23:19