In season and out of season
Let me introduce you to my amazing pole bean plant.
I planted pole beans twice this year. The first time, none of them germinated. It wasn’t just that the tender green shoots got eaten by nasty critters, as some of my gardening friends helpfully suggested. They didn’t come up at all. The seed was a few years old, and it was a long shot, but most of our local stores no longer carry pole bean seed so I used the old seed. My second planting didn’t do much better, but one lonely little plant did eventually germinate, weeks after one would normally plant beans. I finally decided to plant some bush beans to keep it company.
The bush beans did what bush beans usually do. They bore for a couple of weeks and then tailed off. Since then, there have been a few beans here and there, but barely enough to mention.
My lone pole bean plant, on the other hand, is still producing. On the weekend I filled a three litre basket with its produce. Today I did so again. This was at least the fifth harvest from this wonderfully productive singleton plant. And there are still more beans coming – lots of them.
Most years, the three trellises that grace my back yard fence support the vines from four or five pole bean plants. This year, my lone surviving pole bean plant made the most of its opportunity and spread out to cover a full two thirds of this support structure all by itself (with a little help from my guiding hands, placing the vines where I wanted them to go).
A bean is not very impressive. It’s quite small and unspectacular – just like most average Christians, who tend to think that they don’t have a lot to offer. Yet this one little bean, planted in the ground, undaunted by the failure of its colleagues, has quietly gone about its business and produced a truly prodigious harvest, simply by consistently doing what it was made for, day in and day out.
The apostle Paul, toward the end of his life, wrote a letter of encouragement to his young protege Timothy. One of the gems of wisdom in this letter is the advice to preach the word in season and out of season. In other words, don’t quit when circumstances seem unfavourable. Just keep going about your Father’s business. Be who you were made to be, do what you were made to do, and you will reap a harvest.
Today I am thankful that God used my one little bean plant, so quietly yet consistently productive, to remind me of this simple but powerful truth.