There is a Gardener with a very large garden in which He has planted a wide variety of plants. Some of these plants are tough and hardy, while others bear soft, fleshy fruits susceptible to extreme weather and terrible predators. One day, the Gardener planted a tiny seed and named it Tom. This is Tom’s story.
The Gardener was cautious in His placement of Tom, knowing that Tom would produce good fruit, but that he wouldn’t be very hardy and would need care and protection. The Gardener found the best spot, right up close by His house to cut back the wind and to make Tom more easily accessible for those rough days when he would need extra tending. The Gardener carefully sowed the seed, watered it often, allowed just the right amount of sunshine to help it along, and waited patiently for it to sprout.
Tom, a mere seedling, poked up through the ground finally, stretching his new green stem. It was bright his first day in the garden, and he could feel the warm sunshine on his face. The Gardener noticed him that morning and spoke kindly to him, promising to protect him always. The Gardener said that He would always be nearby, so if Tom should ever find himself in trouble or is ever just feeling lonely, he could always give the Gardener a shout. Tom grinned happily and got to work photosynthesizing so that he could grow up big and strong.
He quickly made great friends all around him. There was a patch of lovely sunflowers always willing to move a bit and let in more light for him. He had a neighboring potato plant that was tough as nails and would help rid him of weeds. He called on the Gardener often for assistance and care because the Gardener was never too busy to stop and help. It was obvious to Tom that the Gardener loved him very much and had placed him in a special spot, surrounded by helpful and encouraging friends.
It didn’t take long for Tom to get very big and leafy. He soon found a confidence he had lacked as a simple stem. His roots were strong and plentiful, and his leaves were beautiful. The Gardener would often ask what He could do for the plant, but Tom’s reply was always “Nothing. I can do everything myself!” Tom could pull up the weeds that cropped in around him, flick off the insects that arrived for snacking, and push himself above all his neighboring plants to get the most sunshine. The Gardener relocated Tom’s neighbors who began to complain of the lack of sunshine and friendly conversation. The Gardener was sad, but remained faithful, always offering to help, even though He was rejected time and again.
As Tom grew, the Gardener found it necessary to train his branches in order for him to produce better fruit. A battle of wills ensued every morning as the Gardener gently, but firmly, moved Tom’s limbs up into a trellis form. Tom would complain and balk and whine over it. He would always ask, “Why do you do this to me?” Every morning, the Gardener’s answer was the same: “It is for your own good.”
One evening, Tom set his first fruit—a tiny green bulb of a tomato. He was thrilled as he looked around for someone to share it with, until he remembered his bed had been cleared of neighboring plants. The Gardener was not willing to sacrifice perfectly good plants to Tom’s demeaning, over-bearing, rude character. Tom sighed, and then called after the Gardener who was busy planting new seeds. When He arrived, Tom proudly displayed his new fruit with a radiating grin. The Gardener smiled back softly and offered to put up some wire around him. Now that he was producing fruit, Tom would need the extra barrier against hungry four-legged predators.
Tom wouldn’t have it. He could take care of his own fruit—he made it all by himself, after all! He would be fine without the stupid fencing.
That night, as Tom rested from the day’s excitement, he felt a few sharp pains, and then a gut-wrenching throb. He looked down where his beloved green globe had been a few hours prior, only to find it torn in half, a tiny chunk barely hanging on! He cried out for the Gardener who quickly rushed to his side. Tom wailed over his stolen fruit. The Gardener comforted him and then spoke firmly:
“I planted you with care in the choicest spot in my garden. You were surrounded by wonderful plants, all willing to help you and care for you. You grew quickly with ease because of my love and their concern.
You became over-confident, mean, and nasty as you grew. You always teased your neighbors and put them down for not being as big and as beautiful as you. You forgot your days as a small seedling, how these plants had helped care for you, and their kindness and good will towards you, and it saddened them. I moved those plants, hoping that you would realize your mistakes once they were gone, but you only continued on the same destructive path. I never stopped caring for you or offering to help, but you did not need me.
I disciplined you lovingly by training up your branches so that you could produce better fruit. You did not thank me, only grumbled through it.
And when you began to bear fruit, I offered stronger protection. A plant that is bearing fruit, while mature, still needs care from its Gardener—still needs a helping hand. But you would have none of it, believing yourself fully capable of seeing your fruit to harvest.
Now, I hope you have learned some valuable lessons. Your Gardener will offer you helpful friends and neighbors, if you will only take the time to get to know them. They may be older than you and can save you the heartache of learning a lesson on your own. Your Gardener disciplines and trains you for a good reason: to help you produce stronger, heartier fruit that can be a blessing to those that surround you. And finally, you are never too mature to need a Gardener. In fact, as you grow, you will learn to ask for help when you need it and to accept assistance when it is offered.”