One night we will have stuffed bell peppers in a fresh tomato sauce with green beans on the side. The next we will have eggplant parmigiana with a squash casserole on the side. Later in the week it will be a country veggie plate of butterbeans, sliced tomatoes, roasted corn, fried okra, and a big wedge of cornbread. Pasta night will feature a fresh tomato sauce with fresh oregano and feta cheese or a simple cherry tomato sauce with fresh basil. Then there will be the times we try something new, like today’s grilled eggplant and red onion sandwich on a toasted multi-grain bun with lemon aioli and a big slice of tomato plus pita chips and baba ghanoush (a dip of grilled eggplant and tahini) on the side. As the rest of the vegetables die off, we will still have the Italian plum tomatoes and enjoy a pizza with homemade crust and tomato sauce, plus a few late season peppers and some Italian sausage. A few nights later, we will do the same thing, but fold it over and make a calzone out of it with the sauce on the side. Yes, this is one of our favorite times of the year.
But now we are seeing that it will have to end sometime in the near future. Maybe it’s the heat, maybe it’s our age, maybe it’s a combination of the two, but all this good food isn’t worth sacrificing our health for, much less our lives. Someday soon we will have to buy canned and frozen foods at the store like everyone else instead of using the preserved items we have labored over for three months every year.
Which all serves to remind us of what we have lost and why. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return,” Gen 3:19.
We sweat a lot over this garden. Some days I think it is watered more by us than the rain. That is as it should be, for sin deserves far worse punishment than that and every one of us has participated in it. It is by God’s mercy that we plant in the spring when we have a cool breeze and a sun that is not directly over us. That same mercy grants us a salvation we do not deserve, and the help to make it through a life we have all but ruined from the beginning. Why should we expect a perfect life now? Why should we expect that things will always turn out right? Someone has not been reading the same Bible I have. It is grace that promises us that there is a perfect place in the future. Don’t look upon that hope with ingratitude because you cannot have it now. We have only ourselves to blame.
But in the midst of the toil, the sweat, the thorns and thistles and weeds, we enjoy a few weeks of some of the best meals in the world—not gourmet feasts, not something concocted by a celebrity chef—but the plain and simple fare that comes straight from the ground and reminds us of the provision God has made “for the just and the unjust,” not because He had to, but because He wanted to. It also reminds us of the garden we will return to someday, and never have to leave again. If you don’t have your own garden, head to the farmers’ market this week and remind yourselves that God still loves us. This is the way it is supposed to be, and it can be again. It’s up to you whether you get to enjoy it.
Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned…But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many…For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ, Rom 5:12,15,17.