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Dad's Tomatoes

As far back as I can remember, my father took pride in the tomatoes he harvested from his garden plot each year. All throughout the summer, there'd be plenty of red, juicy tomatoes spread on the dish drain to be used at any meal or shared with the neighbors.

I recall that about this time in the spring, he'd start either the seeds or the little baby plants in trays of little pots, several dozen a tray. He'd place those carefully planted trays near the windows for maximum sun. Each day we'd watch for the minutest signs of growth. Later, when the emerging plants were strong enough and the chance of frost had passed, he'd lovingly transplant each one of them into our backyard garden.

He'd add his scientifically figured "amendments" to the soil around the plants - stinky fish heads from recent fishing outings, mushroom soil from his secret supplier, and who knows what other ingredients he added into his soil casserole. Whatever he did, it worked.

He knew instinctively that the art of growing wildly productive tomato plants requires attentive, daily care. Wisely, once the main branches were healthy and producing tomatoes, he'd ruthlessly pinch off any of the sucker shoots growing up from the bottom of the plant. Left alone, those suckers would've siphoned off the life-giving sap on its way from the vine to the branches. Dad wanted big, juicy tomatoes, and so he did the appropriate vine-dressing.

In one familiar scripture story, Jesus speaks of his father as the vinedresser who prunes his vines (us) so we will produce even more fruit, more results for the Kingdom (John 15:1-5). We can participate in this pruning process too. We can ask the Holy Spirit to show us what needs to be pruned back in our life. If they were labeled, what activities, what time-wasters, what useless things, what habits and preoccupations are our sucker shoots? These are the things that drain away our energy from accomplishing the Lord's good plan for our lives.

Delicious tomatoes? Pinch off the sucker shoots!

Living in the Lord's best for our lives? Participate willingly in the pruning!

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