May 8, 2009

Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good Pea-Pods?

It’s been 41 days since I planted our little garden and according to the instructions on the seed packets, in approximately 5 more days we should be enjoying the bounty of an early spring planting of lettuce and peas. Oh, the glorious salads!

But even though I did everything properly (prepared the soil, added nutrients, sowed the seeds properly and watered), the only homegrown produce in our near future is coming from the farmers’ market!

It started so promising. The peas perked out of the soil in neat rows and started to cling to the trellis I’d cleverly crafted. I envisioned verdant plants sagging under the weight of abundant pods. The lettuce, however, didn’t seem to grow at all. It took twice as long to germinate as expected and appeared to stagnate as micro plants— kind of gave a new meaning to “baby greens.”

Hmm, what did I do wrong? I consoled myself; at least we’ll have peas.

Since it’s been raining for nine straight days, I haven’t been out to garden lately but I can spy it from an upstairs window. From that vantage point it looked like the lettuce had finally started to perk up. But, I couldn’t see the peas.

Today, between breaks in the rain, I investigated the situation. While the lettuce had grown considerably, I immediately discovered why I couldn’t see the peas. There weren’t any. They were gone. Every. Single. Plant. Underneath the once proud trellis, the bare soil mocked my futile attempts at gardening.

I have no idea what happened. We don’t have deer or many pea-snatching critters. But maybe it was an animal. Were the plants have been picked by one of the many boys that have played in the back yard in recent days? Did they succumb to a mysterious rot (the plants, not the boys)?

I honestly don’t know, but I’m so disappointed.

There are lots of things in life we sow and tend to—things far more significant than produce. Sometimes we reap the harvest we expect, but other times, out of nowhere, someone or something snatches it away:
  • The promotion you’ve been working toward for all those years goes to some young upstart.
  • The retirement account you’ve diligently managed is now worth half its value.
  • The college-age son you raised in a godly home now disavows his faith.
  • The marriage you’ve lovingly tended crumbles under your spouse’s infidelity.
  • The trust you’ve carefully cultivated shatters when your friend betrays you.
  • The manuscript you’ve poured yourself into dies when the publisher goes out of business.

It’s human nature to be stunned and devastated. To feel that life should add up like a math equation where preparation + effort + perseverance = desired outcome. It’s easy to think God let us down.

But maybe among the trials and disappointments the roots of faith deepen. Maybe the process, not the outcome, yields the greatest harvest. Maybe the vacant spaces teach us to hold the things of this life loosely—and set our sights firmly on Jesus.

While much in this life may be snatched away, as Christians, we can rest in confidence that the most important thing of all will never be taken away—“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:28)

And sometimes, as we reassess the loss in our gardens, God tells us it’s time to plant tomatoes instead.

P.S. Like the title? Hate it? My husband, who is blessed (cursed?) with a knack for creating clever turns of phrase thought it up. It was too much of a groaner to pass up!


Anonymous said...

Love the title :)

This goes along with something I once read: "Sometimes God shows us what his will is, by showing us what his will isn't."

I am sorry about your peas. From my days in my mother's garden, I remember how fragile peas were. I am willing to bet that the amount of rain was just too much for the tender baby plants!

Sarah said...

I think its great! I'm afraid for my strawberries too. I've never tried peas.

God is so good. Praise the Lord that our salvation can't be "eaten" or taken away or wither on the vine.

Have an awesome day and great Mother's Day!

Sarah said...

I think its great! I'm afraid for my strawberries too. I've never tried peas.

God is so good. Praise the Lord that our salvation can't be "eaten" or taken away or wither on the vine.

Have an awesome day and great Mother's Day!

Sue J. said...

It's a bit more hopeful sounding than "The Doomed Legumes."

The garden is the place where faith is tested--Adam, Eve, Jesus....they all have stories about being there, too. Ultimately, God has His plans, and though we might question (if not actually try to fill in the missing variables of that equation), we cannot thwart Him.

The question for you is, Will you plant those tomatoes (if you have lots of sun?) Satan would like nothing more than to see you turn over that garden bed, bloomin' lettuce and all. We need to trust that God has bigger purposes for us and that He can keep us encouraged and guide us in what we are to plant--the harvest being His.

That's how He makes us whole (foods). [Right back at ya, Dan.]

Dan said...

Lettuce pray.

Terri Tiffany said...

First let me say how well written this was, And it spoke to my heart. I'm right there with the disappointments and wonder why certain things didn't or don't happen but your ending says it all. thank you!

Peggy said...

Looks like everyone is getting in the title act, and they are all good.
Gardening is very difficult at times. When I lived in Fla, started my garden on the balcony until the day the plants were ready for the soil.
I took my pots a big roll of chicken wire, and everything nessary (even torn rags to tie on the wire, to ward off plant eaters). Planted with tender loving care the tomatoes, peppers,and things I can't remember. Worked all day, and was dreaming of the day I would have my first homegrown tomatoe sandwhich. Went to bed. Next morning looked out the window of my kitchen, NOTHING-Not one thing in the garden.
Later found out that the land crabs climbed the wire, and had a gourmet dinner by moonlight .
What a disapointment, and I bought tomatoes all summer!!!! True story!
Life does go on.
Blessings and Love....Peggy

Irritable Mother said...

OK, I don't want to make you jealous or anything, but a few summers ago I had a garden and planted peas and they grew in abundance. They were wonderful!
Don't give up - try it again next year.
As for the title? I love it!!!

Cheryl Barker said...

Kelli, I'd say to tell your husband "Cute title", but do you really want me to encourage his schtick? :)

I, too, am thankful that we don't have to worry about being snatched out of God's hands. Blessed assurance, huh?

By the way, good luck with the tomatoes if you decide to go that way! :)

Chatty Kelly said...

Then he added the "lettuce pray" - that is just too much. LOL! I love puns. So I thought is was great.

I'm sorry about your pea-pods. I have a brown thumb, so your story was familiar to me in everything I've ever planted. I've moved on to the "greener pastures" of writing - a hobby I enjoy!

But even in that, it is God who makes it happen. Sometimes we get rejected along the way (which is rotten indeed). But it's all part of the journey.

Keep planting those seed of faith - I see a mighty fine harvest coming up over here!

Saleslady371 said...

Love your title! Hubby did good. Very encouraging words. You guys are a team.

Julie Gillies said...

Your title is hilarious--kudos to your hubby, Kelli. :)

And I'm so sorry about your veggies, or lack thereof. But hey, you got a good (and oh so true!) blog post out of it. I hope you don't give up on your little garden. Try something more hearty (just don't ask me what that might be, cuz all my veggies come from the store. Pitiful, I know.)

Oh, and LOL on Dan's comment.

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

How did I know that I was going to "get" something today by coming here?! Thanks, Kelli. This reminds me of something I read in my devo's this morning ... (quoting now as if Jesus were talking):

"I placed experiences in your life that exposed your deep need to know Me. I brought you people in whom you see the Light of My Presence." (Sarah Young's "Dear Jesus", pg. 190).

That phrase "experiences in your life to expose your deep need...", well, how true is that? I remember feeling the profundity of rejection after my first two manuscripts. Looking back, I can see more clearly as to reasons, but at that time, it stung hard and furious and wouldn't let up for a long season.

Now, having finished my third, I have a better focus for what I want to see happen, and I am thankful for the "seeds" of growth in years prior, even though it didn't seem to birth much of "nothin'" at the time.

Wonderful teaching, friend.

Happy Mother's Day to you.


Carmen Gamble said...

Love the title...tell hubby it's a keeper ;) Your post is well written and insightful! A very enjoyable read.

Tea With Tiffany said...

Love the title.

I relate to the gardening experience on the soil level and in my heart. I love to garden and there are many lessons I learn and relearn.

Tomatoes. Sounds like a great idea!

Your post reminded me of Larry Crabb's book The Pressure's Off. He talks about the a+b doesn't equal c in life.

Have a great week!