When it comes time to transplant them into the garden, they must first become inured to the outdoors. We set them out in the sunlight, which in this subtropical clime is more direct than the rest of the country, for an hour the first time, and then move them to the shade. Every day they get more sunlight until they are ready for full sun all day.
Despite all this care, we lose a few each year. One morning, as I was putting out the last of the pepper plants, I reflected on how tenacious the weeds were. If I had been transplanting them, I wouldn’t have had to worry. Even weeds half an inch tall had a root system five times their length and never wilted in the sun, while the foot high vegetables not only wilted, but often fell over. In fact, this year we simply threw away half a dozen plants because it was obvious they would never stand up to the rigors of garden growth. They were prima donnas, requiring high maintenance to simply stay alive. I doubt they would have ever produced fruit so they were not worth the trouble.
As we grow spiritually, I fear too many of us have become prima donna plants. When I see parents treating their girls like princesses, giving in to their every wish and making sure that life is always exciting and fun, I cringe to think what their poor husbands will be going through to keep them happy, and wonder how they will ever be able to stand by him in a crisis—they will simply fall apart. In all areas, growing up is about becoming stronger, not about gaining more privileges.
God expects the same from his children. We are supposed to become stronger, able to withstand a spiritual beating without losing our faith, willing even to face persecution for the sake of the gospel. God does shelter us when we are young in the faith, promising never to give us more than we can handle, but I think some of us are trying to hang on to our spiritual immaturity, thinking that as long as we cannot handle a trial, God will never send one! I am afraid it doesn’t work that way.
God has always had a schedule for his people. He says that we should be able to teach “by reason of time.” He has always pictured his people in agricultural terms, vineyards and oliveyards especially, and everyone knows that the harvest comes on a schedule—you can’t put it off. “The field is white unto harvest,” he told his apostles. He often seemed to despair when they hadn’t grown quite fast enough to suit him: “Have I been with you so long and still you do not know me?” Just as we expect our children to become strong enough to handle life by the time they are grown, God expects the same from us. It is simply wrong to expect him to pamper us forever.
When God despairs of a people ever being able to stay faithful, he uproots them and plants something else. It may look like a weed to us. I am sure the Jews thought that God would never settle for a Gentile, but he most certainly did. And he will dig us up and toss us out for someone we might never have given the time of day if we don’t develop a good enough root system to withstand the scorching heat of life’s noonday sun and the floods of a spiritual downpour. He will simply look out into the field and find a weed that can take it, that doesn’t have to be treated like a hothouse flower to survive. Weeds, you see, are simply uncultivated flowers--wildflowers--and he can make them into the beautiful plant he wants, the one that can stand the weather and stay faithful.
But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. Then you will say, "Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in." That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. Rom 11:17-21.