OPINION

Green: Staying connected and bearing so much fruit

RENAE GREEN

It’s November, and I’m still picking my garden. The squash, cucumbers, and cantaloupe have gone by the wayside, but y’all. I have hundreds of tomatoes on the vine. Hundreds of banana peppers, jalapenos, cayenne, and bell peppers, waiting to be picked. The black-eyed peas and okra are still producing. And for my first time ever, I have little baby cauliflower. It’s the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.

Renae Green column

Superman and I changed our gardening methods this year, and clearly, it worked. But despite our efforts, I can’t take credit for our prolific garden. For some reason, God just chose to bless us. And He keeps blessing and blessing.

Of all the produce, the tomatoes have surprised me the most. In years past, I’ve tried to grow tomatoes. I planted them below the hill. I got approximately three tomatoes, all year. I tried them on top of the hill. Same yield.

 I tried them in the shade.

I tried them in the sun.

 I tried them everywhere.

It was not fun.

(The previous four lines inspired by Dr. Seuss. You’re welcome.)

This year, we added a fresh, new layer of compost. We covered that with newsprint. We covered the newsprint with mulch. And we prayed a lot. Lo and behold, I have too many tomatoes. Right now, my freezer is filled with bags and bags of tomatoes waiting to be canned.

I’ve shared them.

I’ve cooked them.

I’ve shared more.

I’ve begged people to take them.

So. Many. Tomatoes.

A couple of times when I picked the tomatoes, I accidentally stepped on a branch and severed it from the main vine. At that point, I had to salvage what I could from the branch and feed the scraps to the chickens. No matter how many tomatoes were on that branch, once it was severed from the vine, it was done. No more tomatoes for it.

It reminded me of that verse in the Bible, where it says God wants us to bear much fruit. The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and self-control. If we try to produce those things on our own, it’s like a branch trying to produce fruit without the vine. Even our most valiant attempts will end in failure. But when we’re connected to the source of all those qualities, the fruit grows naturally. When we’re connected to the vine, the fruit is prolific. It’s nothing we can take credit for... it all comes from being connected to God.

Too often, I’ve been like my previous tomato plants. I’ve tried everything I knew to produce more kindness, more patience, more peace in my life. But nothing I do, of my own accord, can change my nature. It’s only when I’m truly connected to God, through prayer, through reading His Word, through obeying His call to love... only then do I see abundant fruit.

I love knowing that He wants me to be like this year’s tomatoes. He wants me to bear so much fruit, so much love and joy and peace and patience and kindness that it bubbles over. He wants these qualities to be present in abundance, in my life and yours, so those around us can reap the benefits.

I dread the first frost of the season. The day before, I’ll be picking and canning green tomatoes. (Let me know if you want some.) But it’s comforting to know that God’s produce is always in season.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing... This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” John 15:5, 8

Renae Brumbaugh Green is a bestselling author and award-winning humor columnist. She lives in Stephenville with her handsome, country-boy husband, nearly perfect children, and far-too-many animals. Connect with Renae at www.RenaeBrumbaugh.com