Yesterday I had about 2 hours between Benny's 85th birthday party and dark, so I changed into my dirty shoes and pulled out the tiller. Sandy and I picked up some veggie plants on Friday and I knew I needed to get them in the ground before the predicted rains began to fall. My tiller, "Bessie" is not a little thing, but I was pretty confident I could handle her. There is a setting for using the tines in reverse and one for using the tines in forward. In reverse they dig deep and really turn up the dirt. We had already done that several times so this time I decided that I just needed to loosen the ground well enough to be able to stick some plants in.
I backed Bessie out of the barn, pulled the cord a few times and she started up. The neighbors grabbed the binoculars ready for the show. I got over to the garden and engaged the plow. We were going along pretty steady for a little bit then hit a patch of hard ground. I don't know how much tiller experience you have, but if you have any at all, you know that those tines will dance right over hard ground. So there I was, steady she goes, then all of the sudden I look up and I've covered half the garden, I'm sure my legs were flapping behind me. If I would have let go of the handle, it would have stopped, but there was no letting go. I was hanging on for dear life. It's been a long time since I've eaten a mud pie, and quite frankly, didn't remember them tasting quite so, well, . . .MUDDY. Maybe because when I made them when we were little we made them out of west Texas mud (more like wet sand) and it hadn't been fertilized with Fannie droppings.
I finally got to where I would hunker down when I saw a patch of ground that could prove deadly for me. Making the corners was another story. Somehow this thing would speed up on corners. The first one I felt like I was being thrown off a bucking bull. Finally got it all tilled and began to poke squash plants into the soil. I felt a bite on my ankle and looked down to see my foot planted firmly in a fire ant bed. Cue the music. For being raised a baptist girl, I was doing a pretty good job at "getting down with my bad self". Shoes were flying through the air, clothes were about to come off when I remembered we had neighbors. I composed myself and finished the job at hand. I got to the last watermelon plant, dug the hole, then it was so dark I couldn't find the hole. Dug another one, stuck my finger in it, grabbed the plant, stuck it in, covered it up and ran to the house. I left everything out. I was done. I didn't care at that point if I ever had a garden.
Until this morning. Pulling out of the drive way, I looked over and saw those little plants poking their heads up out of fertile soil and it made me smile. We're going to have tomatoes! and squash! and cucumbers, watermelon, onions, and peppers! We're going to have black eyed peas and sweet corn of the cob! I have a blister on my hand from the hoe and blisters all over my feet from fire ant bites. I have a bruise on the bottom of my right leg because after the fire ant ordeal, every time my shoe string tickled my leg I looked down and slapped at a freckle I've had for years - thinking it was an ant.
It's gonna be worth it.
Today I was back at it again. Hoeing and making rows, making my garden pretty. I was praying for my family. My kids. My church family. For me. Praying that our hearts would be fertile soil and that the Word would be planted deep and grow up to bear much fruit. I was grateful that my Father never gives up on me. He keeps tilling, fertilizing, watering, and pruning to make sure there is plenty to harvest. I wish I could say the same for me. There are times I feel bruised, beat up, bitten and just want to run to the house and forget what He has called me to.
Until He reminds me. This morning after church, a man came up and introduced himself as "Frank's brother". Frank is someone I wrote about at the beginning of my blogging journey. How when I would get discouraged I would look at the picture of his baptism at the age of 82, weeping in the horse trough. It would inspire me to keep on working for the Lord. I knew about this brother, because he and Frank hadn't spoken in years and years, but after Frank accepted the Lord he went to all of his family and reconciled relationships. This brother lived in Hawaii and after Frank called him, they began to talk almost daily, making up for lost time. Frank told him about Jesus. After Frank got sick, his brother flew over to see him. They spent a week together while Frank was in the hospital. Frank died two or three days after his brother flew back home. When I looked into his face this morning, I saw Frank. I saw Frank's tears. I couldn't help but put my hand on the side of his face and then I asked him if I could hug him. His arms embraced me quicker than I ever thought 80 year old arms could. We held each other and cried. Sweetness. Frank's fruit. In the last days of his life he bore more fruit than most of us do in a lifetime.
You keep me going, Jesus. It's gonna be worth it.