Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Green Bean Perspective

By Brenda Black

Right at my fingertips and about eye level – yes, that's the perfect place to pick green beans. No back strain, no embarrassing road side posture when traffic passes near the gardner. No mud spattered pods to clean. That's why I plant pole beans.

Still, I discovered in a year of glorious growth, that I've had to twist and bend all sorts of ways to not miss the pencil thick veggies camouflaged among the vines and foliage. In the picking, I gained some perspective not only about green bean harvest. My eyes were opened as well to a few things about the Gospel message and the people who hear it.

Those easy eye-level ones are a breeze to bring to Christ. They are ripe for the picking and eager to jump into the bucket. They make sharing faith simple. But for every one of those, there are countless others that demand extra time and effort to reach.

The clusters. You'll find them in groups of three or four, equally long and thick. Quite uniform, they cling to each other and hang conspicuously on the vines beneath their combined weight of influence. In their numbers, they are a handful. If one doesn't break loose, the others may drop to the ground in the jarring or vines be broken and left dangling with many more beans wilting because of the careless approach. Worse yet, in trying to reach the masses with one stealth swoop, there exists the risk of accidentally knocking off nearby blossoms or a tiny sprout.

One size usually does not fit all. I've found that to be true in clothing and in Christianity. Though people may modify their behavior to mirror that of their peers, they are still individual in heart and mind and soul. Every single person needs to meet Jesus one on one. That takes time and individualized tender tugs.

Ironically, pole beans, intended to make picking hassle free, have me nearly standing on my head to look up and underneath. I've had to change my angle, lift arms full of tangled tendrils and squint just right to spot a keeper. And sometimes, the most ready are laying all the way down on the ground.

Now, I could ignore them, step over them. I could choose to not waste my time on them and still have plenty of pods for the pot. But there they lay – some nearly perfect and others a darker green and a bit deformed. God wishes for none to perish, but for all to come. You may think me silly to go all Gospel while I'm in my garden. Sometimes that's where God speaks the sweetest, the softest and the most convicting lessons when I listen. The soft coo of a mourning dove or the “Bob White” call of a quail are whispers of God's voice. The soft nicker of a yearling foal or even the buzz of a honey bee as it passes near my ear gives me cause to know there is a Creator who cares for every creature and blade of grass on this earth. How much more He loves you and me and doesn't want anyone overlooked.

When I first started gathering, I methodically picked only one side of my cattle panel trellis. I was determined to not reach through the wire grid to snatch from the other side until I made my way back up the line over there. I'd see some ready and force myself not to touch. Then I began finding tough hardened pods that had somehow been overlooked. I'd chastise myself, “How could you have missed that?” I changed my approach. If I could see it and reach it, I picked it right then and there!

Oh for that kind of urgency when it comes to the souls of my fellow man. I see them. I can reach them. Then I tell myself I'll do it next time, believing there will always be a better opportunity. “I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2b)

The sad, awful truth is that hearts will not always stay tender and receptive. I am compelled by God's great love and mercy to go and tell, and tell if often and to everyone!

“See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3:12-13)

 It's no surprise that most of the beans hidden were easier seen when the trailing clumps of leaves and vines were lifted to allow sunlight to penetrate once dark places. I could tell you what that means to me, but I'd rather you listen to the whispers of the Savior and receive your own green bean perspective.

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