Ruby is a freelance writer from the Philippines. Aside from writing, she enjoys studying nature and does gardening as another hobby.
In March 2020, when the lockdown due to Covid19 began in my place, my work as a teacher in the physical classroom, has suddenly halted. Trying to avert boredom and maximize my precious time, I resorted to gardening. I avidly worked on my tiny land and removed undesirable weeds, scattered them on the soil, and allowed them to rot. As soon as these unwanted shrubs have decayed, they turned into natural garden fertilizers. A final cleaning of the area and planting soon followed. I lodged some fruits, herbs, veggies and crops. Gardening teaches me cherished instructions worth sharing. It unfolds before me a crystal-clear notion about Christianity is a lot like plants in some ways. Take for example a few that I have discovered.
Like the bitter gourd, some Christians require a support system.
The bitter gourd, which is also known as bitter melon with the scientific name momordica charantiae, “is a tropical and subtropical vine of the family Cucurbitaceae. It is commonly grown in Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean due to its edible fruit. Its many varieties differ greatly in the shape and bitterness of the fruit” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Momordica_charantia). It is a warm season crop chiefly grown in sub-tropical and hot-arid regions. It is vulnerable to light frost and entails some partial protection. As to the soil type, the bitter gourd can be grown on well drained sandy, to sandy loam; medium black soils rich in organic matter. Muddy soil along the river beds is also good for its production. But there is something unique in this plant. The bitter gourd is a climbing plant. It always wants to go up. And as it ascends, it needs a framework—a special kind of support for it to hang on. It requires a trellis to serve as its backing for proper growth. Without this, it is impossible for it flourish and bear fruits.
Like the bitter gourd, some Christians require a support system.They are the Christians who need other stronger members in the church during their spiritual ascent, so they could achieve something for the church and for God’s glory. With this type of Christian, church coldness can be a real threat. Remember, the bitter gourd thrives best in a warm climate. So, when the church or members become cold, the bitter gourd Christian’s spiritual life begins to wane and soon dies out. Sooner or later, the bitter gourd Christians could not be found inside the church. Apostle Paul emphasizes this concept when he says, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25, KJV).
Like the squash, some Christians need a lot of space.
Planting squash or zucchini especially with a limited space, poses a great challenge for gardeners. A squash plant needs a large or wide area if you want it to grow freely and flourish abundantly. A squash plant has broad leaves and vines that require a lot of space in your land. When you grow a squash, you need to be prepared because this plant will force you to widen your range in order for it to flourish, grow and bear huge fruits. Its broad and flat leaves require a huge expanse for them to spread well.
Some Christians are so much like the squash plant. To thrive well in church, squash Christians need a lot of space. For them to grow, develop, and strengthen their faith, they need more time to become mature in their Christian journey. They are the type of Christians who require more of our patience than others. They need to be allowed to develop their potentials and exercise their abilities. These are the type of Christians who need attention to be be given more opportunities to maximise their capabilities. Apostle Paul rightly understands this point when he warns, “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, to” (Philippians 2:3-4, NLT).
Like the tomato, some Christians are very frail and puny.
Tomatoes are a delicate type of plant. When planting tomatoes, you’ve got to be an extra-careful gardener, or else, you will lose all of your tomatoes and end up harvesting nothing. Further, when tomatoes grow taller, they need something to lean on for they could hardly stand on their own without any support.Tomatoes especially love phosphorous. For plants, phosphorous is a must to promote the formation of blossoms and fruits that grow from them. Further, you need to avoid high nitrogen when your tomato plants have blossoms since nitrogen promotes vine growth instead of fruits.
The tomato Christians are a lot like that too. They are very frail and puny. Any little word inappropriately said by a fellow church member, may cause the tomato Christians to stumble. They need other Christians who are stronger than themselves to serve as their wall of support. They require guidance, companions and friends in their Christian walk. Tomato Christians need a lot of care, encouragement, and nurture. They are the type of Christians who require our abundant Christian love so they could become more stable Christians. Because of this, Apostle Paul strikes the right note when he admonishes, “We who are strong must be considerate of those who are sensitive about things like this. We must not just please ourselves” (Romans 15:1, NLT).
Like the snake plant, some Christians are resilient and deeply rooted.
The Snake Plants, also known as Mother-in-Law’s Tongue or Sansevieria trifasciata is a succulent plant that can grow to a height of up to two meters. This type of plant comes with low maintenance. “Sansevieria” also commonly known as the snake plant, is a very tolerant plant that is impossible to kill. Whether in low light, high drought, or heavy rain. It is one of the toughest plants that I know. It can thrive even with the gardener’s neglect. It does not need extra care like other plants. It can subsist in almost any kind of soil or environment. Weather or climate does not bother it.
I compare this snake plant with the resilient Christians. They are the Christians who are tough-hearted. The snake plant Christians are those who have built very strong foundations in their faith. These are Christians whose roots have deeply absorbed the spiritual nutrients through the study of God’s word, prayer, witnessing and other Christian disciplines. Thus, when trials and difficult circumstances assail them, they remain strong, unmovable and loyal to Jesus. Despite a stormy and rough environment they are in, they are steady, they continue to shine despite the odds they face in life. Like the snake plants, these Christians endure with their Creator, trusting Him no matter what life may bring them. The Gospel writer Dr. Luke describes this type of Christians this way, “It is like a person building a house, who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the flood waters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built” (Luke 6:48, NLT).
© 2022 Ruby Campos