Words of Worth

Green Thumb Tomatoes

June 17, 2011

I’ve never been able to boast that I am much of a gardener, which is disappointing given how much I like flowers and like having them both inside and outside of my house. But a green thumb I have not and I am sure to kill a large portion of the flowers that I grow.

Also, I’ve never been able to boast that I am fond of tomatoes, which is mostly disappointing to others because I am Italian and people expect Italians to like tomatoes. But a taste for tomatoes, I have not even though from time to time I try them out on a sandwich or burger.

One summer, I combined my poor gardening ability with my dislike for tomatoes. Someone had given me tomato seeds which I planted and then grew into my own personal farmer’s market of huge, red fruit. I literally had enough tomatoes to be the sole supplier to the Ragu Tomato Sauce Company. How ironic was that? A pathetic gardener, with an intense dislike for tomatoes, grew bushels of them! That never would have been the case if I were growing roses, or violets or some other flower I particularly like.

Ever seeking to learn something valuable from irony, I pondered for a long time on the life lesson I could glean from this bumper crop of tomatoes. And it was about that time that I read a children’s book that was in essence, a child’s guide to overcoming anxiety. On the front cover of the book was a huge tomato plant, somewhat akin to the size of Jack’s infamous beanstalk. That was also ironic because I had teased that my tomato plants were just like Jack’s beanstalk, growing endlessly into the sky.

Well, inside this book was this analogy: that worry is like growing tomato plants, because things that we tend to will grow. For example, if you watered the tomato seed every day it would grow into a plant with leaves and flowers and the more you tended to it, the more plants you would have. And that would lead to the need to go to the library and pick up a book on how to make tomato soup or sauce. And there would be so many plants that tomatoes would show up on your pasta, in your sandwiches, and you might even have to make tomato ice cream or cookies to use up all of the tomatoes! Okay and then here was the left hook of the book: worries are just like tomatoes! Even though you can’t eat your worries, they will grow if you tend to them every day. Before you know it, what started out as a little seed becomes a huge pile of problems that are not easy to discard.

So what’s the life lesson I learned? I learned that I have a green thumb when it comes to growing worry. And I am so good at it because I tend very diligently to my worry. And just like the tomato plant droops from the heaviness of all of the tomatoes growing on it, my heart often droops from all of the worry I carry within it. But our Heavenly Father tells us very clearly in Matthew 6, at least four times very clearly, “Do not worry.” He would rather that, just as we take the tomatoes off the plant, that we would take the worries out of our hearts by “casting all your anxieties on Him, for her cares for you.” (I Peter 5:7). To cast is to literally throw our cares, which are so cutting, distracting and wounding, on the One who cares for us so completely and purely. God is willing to release us of our cares and take them upon Himself, by either averting them or supporting us under them. He’s the One that declares that we are of more worth than all of the birds and flowers in all of the gardens, tomato or otherwise, of life. (SV)

Looking for more words? Read Matthew 6:25-34 and learn how to reduce your bumper crop of worries!

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