The Tomato Plant

I was sitting on our couch one sunny morning looking out our patio doors, when I noticed a peculiar sight.

A large ceramic planter boasting a very brown and dead tomato vine, from which hung 3 very red tomatoes.

How does that work I wondered?

The question motivated me to get off the couch to take a closer look.

Another question emerged onto the scene of my fuzzy morning mind: what becomes of the tomato if no one picks it from the vine?

The fuzz disappeared as my heart was jolted by the words of Jesus:

“Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is PLENTIFUL, but the laborers
are FEW; therefore PRAY EARNESTLY to The Lord of the harvest to send out
laborers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:37).

In other words…there are SO MANY RIPE TOMATOES OUT THERE BUT NOT ENOUGH “PICKERS”!!

I was reminded also of what Jesus said about the ripened harvest in John chapter four:

“Do you not say, ‘There are four months, then comes the harvest’? LOOK, I
tell you, lift up your eyes and SEE that the fields are white for harvest”
(vs.35).

The harvest is ready…

Where is everyone?

What happens if there is no one to pick the fruit?

The hills are beckoning

Notes from my Red Canoe

Psalm 121:

” I lift up my eyes to the hills.From where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved; He who KEEPS you will not slumber nor sleep.

The LORD is your KEEPER; the LORD is your shade on your right hand.

The sun will not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.

The LORD will KEEP you from all evil; He will KEEP your life.

The LORD will KEEP your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever more.”

One of the dictionary’s meanings of the word “KEEP-ER” is: “a person charged with responsibility for the preservation and conseveration of something valuable.”

WOW! This whole psalm breathes this truth to me this morning, and I draw great comfort from it!

Think upon this; in verse two it…

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What Gospel Changes Me?

He’s dead.

In an instant his life was taken from us.

A tragic accident.

His life created waves of wonder and renewed desire to follow Jesus with abandon.

He had a resident fire in his soul; A fire that raged with love for Jesus…

And He was given a platform of influence from the Most High God.

He influenced me, impacted me.

His name?

Michael Yaconelli.

Recently I reread his book titled “Dangerous Wonder” (1998,2003 Navpress); Yaconelli quotes John Claypool as saying, “Those who are really serious about their religion and want to become the kind of person that God wants them to be are the ones most in danger.”; Yaconelli continues writing from his own heart, ” I am beginning to wonder if we modern followers of Christ are capable of being terrified by God. No fear of God. No fear of Jesus. No fear of the Holy Spirit. As a result, we have ended up with a feel good gospel that attracts thousands…but transforms no one” (Pg.125).

…..
In reviewing my own personal journal from this past summer I have been reminded (though I didn’t need reminding as my journey’s footprints are still quite fresh) of this ongoing transformation…
Too quote my own words from an entry made on July 9,2014: (with a few added words from today!):

“Does anyone really know what it means to carry one’s own cross? Have we really understood what it entails to lay one’s life down to follow Jesus?

The gospel is so remarkably simple and yet the depths of it are like the ocean crying out to the deep in me to plunge into the waterfall of it’s truth, but that plunge is not an easy one to take.

O God it hurts, the flesh cries out for itself to be fed constantly with comfort and ease.

It hurts the flesh; It costs; Payment is taken from the places that are cherished and fostered.

To those who do not truly love, this sounds like the cruelest form of life and yet it is where living water springs from, it is where love abundant lives.

I am on an island; Away from my familiar world (I was in Hawaii at the time of this writing) and am wrestling with what I sense my future may ask of me.

Oswald Sanders in his book “Spiritual Leadership writes:
‘Jesus was too straight forward and honest to conceal the cost in the service of the Kingdom. For the fulfillment of the stupendous task entrusted to Him, He needed men and women of quality with eyes wide open, who would follow Him to the death’ (pg. 26).

And in the words of Jesus:
‘And calling the crowd to Him with His disciples, He said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him DENY HIMSELF and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would SAVE his life WILL lose it, but whoever LOSES his life for MY SAKE and the gospels’ will SAVE it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his SOUL?’ (Mark 8:34).

What does it “profit me”? To gain what I will eventually lose this side of eternity?

Is is really a cost to me to trade in my life for the life of Jesus?

The One who died for me, because He loved me, so that He would LIVE in me? So that I WILL LIVE FOREVER WITH HIM?”

….

Can I encourage you to lean into the soul wrestle of dying to your will? Would you allow the Spirit of God to peel away the layers of your “deep” so that the power of God, His gospel, Jesus Christ, may live more fully within you?

I can testify that this summer was soul brutal for me as God revealed places within me that were not yet His (yet again!!), I spent many a sleepless night wrestling long into the darkness, fighting like the prince in the movie “Sleeping Beauty”, slashing away thorns that blocked my path to the castle, to the Lover of my soul…I would not be stopped, refusing to dabble in unbelief, so desirous was I that Jesus would have His way with my will.

Honesty goes a long way to encourage others, so I offer my honesty to you: It was “My” time, “my” grandchildren, “my” unwillingness to follow Jesus without reservation, and the fear of man that was entangling my soul, feeding the fight in me, and ultimately quenching the Spirit of God from leading me into the arms of Jesus.

Why did I wrestle so hard?

I did not want to give up “my” life; “my” treasures were “my” treasures.

These words sound so wicked even as I write them now, they sound like broken glass on a concrete floor, and the shattering brings a form of sorrow as I realize how easy it is to become daft to one’s own heart.

O Jesus YOU alone are my treasure.

“For WHERE your treasure is, THERE your heart will be also” (Matt.6:21).

“God, harden me against myself,
The coward with pathetic voice
Who craves for ease and rest and joy.
Myself, arch traitor to myself,
My hollowest friend,
My deadliest foe,
My clog, whatever I go.”
-Amy Wilson Carmichael