I’m obsessed with tomatoes. Not the store bought variety that graces our winter salad bowls with colorful tastelessness, but the ones I pulled from the vine today. Warm. Bursting with sweet acidity. For breakfast, lunch and dinner! But my success was not always so.
When we first moved to the desert my experience was dismal. Unlike the gardening conditions back east, nothing grew easily in the intense heat except for the native landscape. But I was not to be deterred. Two years ago I dug down deep into the brittle soil and caliche of the desert ground and replaced it with glorious top soil and compost from a nearby farm. In effect, I created my own Edenic soil. In the past two seasons, I have increased tomato productivity two more months by merely improving the soil.
You can probably guess where I am going with this. In the Parable of the Sower, the seed was sown on the path (hardened soil), in rocky places with little soil, in thorny soil, and finally in “good soil”. What made the difference in the maturation of the seed was the condition of the soil in which it was sown. Perhaps this should be the target of our prayer as we lift up one another. The Master Gardener knows what each seed requires for growth. We don’t. We pray for deliverance from suffering when in fact trials may be needed. We pray for health and wealth when another plan may be best. Might we be better off to leave the plan in His Hands and pray instead that God does His work in the soil of the individual heart?
While the desert soil is adequate for its indigenous flora, the soil had to be changed up for my tomatoes to thrive. Similarly, God may have to change up the soil in a heart before one can hear, understand, and grow to maturity. But the joy we will feel someday as we see the fruit of our prayer will far surpass an obsession with the fruit of a tomato vine.