This is the first year that Gary and I have planted potatoes. Gary was around home grown potatoes when he was a boy and so he knew how to plant our spuds. I also set out to research and find out as much as I could about planting potatoes. I bought the seed potatoes at a local mercantile and asked questions there; I googled and read some items on-line; and most importantly, I asked other experienced potato growers for advice. And so in the spring Gary and I planted a long row and a half row of tender red potatoes. We were very excited to see the first green shoots break through the soil, and our excitement continued as the small growths became large and lush. I could imagine all the delicious potatoes growing just under the mounded soil and couldn’t wait to dig them up and cook them in various ways. I wondered where I would store the heavy yield that I fully expected to find.
I asked questions as I thought that our harvest was near and had other gardeners confirm that it was definitely time for Gary and I to dig up our crop. One friend said that potatoes are her favorite crop to harvest as she pulls up the plants and has potatoes spill out of the mounds, and then finds even more as she digs in the soft dirt. And so one morning before the heat was overbearing I anxiously went to the garden with my tools and my big bucket. I thought I might need two buckets, or even more, but thought I’d only have time to fill one on this morning. I carefully dug and found nothing. A little more digging and I found one little potato, then later another little one, but no more. I continued to dig until I reached the next plant, then gently pulled it up as I expected the potatoes to roll out all around my feet. Nothing. Hmmmm. This process continued for as long as I was able to dig that morning. I walked into the house and looked down at those pathetic few potatoes in the big bucket. Surely the rest of the mounds would yield more that that! But sadly, Gary finished the digging on Saturday and had the same results. I stood and watched him dig, again holding the bucket that I hoped to fill, but we were disappointed once again. What had happened to our potatoes? We had planted carefully, had watered, had fertilized. We had beautiful green, bushy growth that led us to believe that underneath the ground were dozens of delicious potatoes waiting to be unearthed. However, underneath the deceptive and beautiful greenery was almost nothing of substance.
I’ve thought about this experience for several days. My mind first went to the lives of some along the way that have touched our lives. And in this case, not necessarily in a positive way. We have known and ministered with people who have every outward evidence of being mature believers in Christ. They say the right words, participate in many right activities, help others, etc., etc. But somewhere along the way their true colors show. When you dig deeply into their lives you find hypocrisy with no real fruit. At times certain ones have brought hurt and disappointment into our lives. But I also, and more importantly, remembered the advice Gary has given me and our children many times. He has wisely said, “Patty, look at your own heart and let God deal with others.” How many times have I exhibited lush, beautiful outward growth but inwardly I am struggling to produce fruit? Am I allowing the Spirit to produce His fruit in my life or am I trying to manufacture it myself? If you dig deep enough into my life, will you find fruit or will you find the dirt of unforgiveness, bitterness, or other sinful issues? It’s easy to be like the Pharisees and show outward growth but have inward barrenness. God spoke to His people through Isaiah and said, “Because this people draw near with their words, and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts from Me……the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be concealed.” May I have a true and faithful heart so that I will consist of more than just the outward greenery of words, actions, and lip service! I pray that I will have deep inner fruit that will manifest itself outwardly for the glory of God!