I recently went away for an extended weekend with my daughter and some friends. As we arrived over 3 hours away from home, I realized I forgot to water my garden before I left. You see, my garden is like my baby. I envisioned having a garden off of my kitchen for years and now, it exists. I LOVE this dang garden. From eggplant to dill, peppers to arugula, cucumbers to lemon balm, this garden has produced and preserved and provided. I have absolutely no idea how to take care of a garden other than this - I pay attention to it, I water it, I cut off the dead things and I harvest from it. I do not have a green thumb but I have managed to keep this garden alive and well for almost a year. It's a miracle.
So when I realized I forgot to water it, I instantly texted my neighbors, asking them to water it. And, I gave them full permission to take whatever they wanted from the garden. In fact, that is an open invite to anyone who lives by me because I find no greater joy than feeding others and so feeding others from this miracle garden?! YES! It's the Italian side of me for sure.
When I got back home from my trip, I went to check on the garden and water it. I was going to harvest anything that my neighbors hadn't, which I assumed would be minimal. I grabbed a Publix bag and picked off a few cherry tomatoes. Maybe 6 or 7. I assumed that was it and it would have been enough for my brunch. Done and done. But as I began to walk away, I saw a cluster of tomatoes from the corner of my eye. OOHHH, hold up. I have to get those.
As I picked those, I looked down and saw more.
And then I stepped into the garden. My feet were planted in the dirt and I moved around cilantro plants and pepper plants and overgrown tomato vines. There I found more beautifully ready-to-eat tomatoes.
The more I looked, the more I found the harvest.
I tackled every area of the garden, my face getting attacked by spider webs, my finger nails filled with dirt, sweat beads forming on my back.
Soon enough the bag was filled with tomatoes. Enough for the week at least. Enough to share.
And as I continued harvesting, I looked down on the ground to find so many tomatoes I had missed in the previous days. They were smashed into the earth, some rotten, some covered in dirt. What a shame. What a shame to waste this food. To miss this harvest.
Is this not a metaphor for life? Is this not a metaphor for the way God works?
We work towards a goal.
We pray the prayers.
We parent the child.
We get up daily at 5am.
We lean into friendships.
We read the books.
We go for the runs.
We build the business.
We go to church on Sunday.
We lead people.
And we reap a harvest. And often times we miss how massive the harvest really is. Our habit is to quickly move on to the next thing. To leave the garden too fast. As we exit, we step on the tomatoes that had fallen because we didn't pay enough attention to them and they had died.
We were able to get a few tomatoes...that was good enough. That was all we felt we deserved. That was all we had time to harvest.
But then God gives us a glimpse of more gifts, more glory, more harvest, more blessings. We are prompted to seek more, to get dirty amidst the plants and spiders and branches because we find out the harvest is plentiful. And it's beautiful. And it ignites our souls.
Our bag gets filled, as do our hearts. We get food for a week, not just for a day. We share what we have been given. We are nourished more than we thought, more than our eyes could see or could believe.
And that glimpse into the perfect bunch of cherry tomatoes stops us in our track. Wow. How good is this harvest?!
I almost missed it. I almost missed the fullness of the harvest. And it brings me to tears thinking I could live my life missing the blessings from the efforts, the obedience, the work. Can you relate?
Hitting the goal.
Watching your child be brave and courageous.
Hearing God's voice at 5am, directing your path for the day.
Having an author you're reading speak so directly to you, helping you navigate your grief better, more authentically.
Seeing the strength and endurance build in your body and your mind as you consistently work out.
Giving your employee the promotion and the raise.
Having a friend tell you thank you, tell you I love you, because of what you did, how you invested, how you loved him/her well.
Friends, your harvest is right in front of your eyes. It's bigger than you think. Search for it, find the blessing, reap the reward, celebrate it and honor it with gratitude. Don't move so fast you miss it. Stop, slow down and count it all joy. Because I know it's there. I know the harvest is more than you can imagine.
And the best thing you can do after you reap the harvest? Share it. Give it away. Do not harbor it for self, but instead, spread it to your people, to the world. Make space for God to do more. Because the more we give, the more opportunity God has to fill us.
Donate a bit more.
Share your best practices.
Give that book to a friend.
Cook a meal for your neighbor.
Pray for five extra people.
Be loud about what God has done in your life.
Volunteer at your church or your child's school or wherever the heck you want.
Write to that author who changed your life, encouraging them for their words, for their work.
To be generous with our harvest is arguably the best thing we can do for the world, for each other. It's an act of obedience, of patience, of kindness. It's an act of love.
Don't miss the harvest. Don't miss the opportunity to be generous. We need you. I need you. And I promise, there will always be more tomatoes. More than you can imagine. Seek and find them. Harvest them, enjoy them. And give them away. Make the space for God to continue to do more.