This summer I’ve been interning at the Center for Refugees and Immigrants of Tennessee, learning how urban agriculture can positively impact communities and empower individuals. But more than that, I’ve been learning about how to grow plants. If you don’t grow many plants, I’d be willing to bet that it’s harder than you think. As I’ve been spending time in the garden I can’t help but think of how often agriculture is used in Scripture to communicate the lessons of spiritual growth that transcend culture and time. So, I wanted to share some metaphors that came to mind while I was pulling weeds.
Being a root vegetable, potatoes grow under ground. So, when growing potatoes you have to pile dirt on top of the plant, making it think that it is farther from the sun. The potato can grow stronger when it is darker, even though its distance from the sun never changed.
Perhaps this is how we must grow as well.
Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”
It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
It is when we are in the midst of trial that we become stronger. It is the times that we call out, “Father, why have you forsaken me,” yet remain faithful that we become most like Christ. It is when we feel that all has been taken away that God has handed us his kingdom. It is the darkest of times that we produce the most fruit. Because God never moved farther away from us, but rather he watched closely as he empowered us to move closer to him.