Early May, I drilled holes in the bottom of a dozen plastic buckets I had picked up from the dollar store.
I placed a few large rocks in the bottom of each container, and filled the rest with potting soil from a bag. In each pot, I planted a tomato seedling. I watered the plants and placed them along the fence outside to grow.
I faithfully cared for my tomato plants, picked off suckers and crawling pests. The plants grew tall and leafy.
Early summer brought blossoms. But the blossoms drooped and fell off without producing fruit.
My fears were realized, the beautiful big trees all over our yard were the culprit. My tomato plants were not getting enough sun to produce fruit. I began moving the plants from place to place throughout the yard in the hope of catching enough sun. No matter where they were placed, the plants were lucky to get two hours of full sun each day. That was simply not enough to produce fruit.
A month ago, after seeing my gardening friends wrapping up their tomato season, I made a final effort to see fruit.
I moved all my plants into our shady sun-room. I popped in couple red LED lights. I added magnesium to the soil and waited to see blossoms appear.
My past experiences with growing plants and gardening has done little to give me any confidence in my gardening abilities.
I admit I am an experimental gardener. I am not good at growing things and keeping them alive. But I do enjoy the journey of trying to grow things, even if I fail in my endeavor.
Most plants require the same basic care. Nutrients, protection from the elements, disease, and pests, pruning, water, sun, and securing of the stems are essential elements for the care of a tomato plant. Growing a fruiting tomato plant is all about nurturing.
I love the meaning of the word “nurture.” It is far more than providing for needs. Nurture implys a depth of attentiveness, an attention to detail, and forthought. Nurturing is providing every essential need to bring about flourishing.
Nurture also includes the notion of being known before care is given. I cannot expect my tomato plants to produce anything if I do not know enough about them to foresee the needs they have.
The term “nurture.” is a very biblical term. Nurturing relationships pepper Scripture. Nurturing is essential to a wide assortment of relationships such as a husband and wife, parents and children, fellow Christians and even strangers.
Nothing is so beautiful to me as the nurturing God does for my soul. Psalm 23 comes into my minds as a step by step example of the Lord nurturing His beloved sheep.
The Shepherd knows His sheep so well He can forsee their every concern. Not only does the Shepherd tend the sheep in the moment, but He prepares for the moments ahead by eliminating dangers and making provisions for the future needs of those sheep in His care.
Our heavenly Father wants to see the souls of all who belong to Him not only live, but thrive and bear much fruit.
In John 15, the husbandman tends to the vine in a nurturing way by of pruning in the right season. That is about where I am with my tomatoes. A summer labor and barren yet, flourishing tomato vines grace the corners of my sun-room as October begins. It is time for some plant purging. If one wants to see fruit, sometimes hard steps must be taken. It is all part of the nurturing process.
He tends ever so carefully to our every need, with the goal of the fruit we will bear as a result of His provision of nourishment, pruning, blessing of daily essentials, and protection.
Oh how nurtured I am by my heavenly Father. He knows and loves me. He wants not only what is best for my care, but what is best for my flourishing, flowering, and fruit bearing.
My Father provides everything I need. There is so much peace in God’s soverign work in every detail of my life.
I know that I am growing in the exact environment that is best. I have been given the perfect amount of provisions for my daily needs. No part of of my life is luck or chance.
I am meticulously nurtured in every aspect of my life by my all-knowing, loving Father…for eternity.
13 As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass,
they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children—
18 with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts. PSALM 103:113-18