Wrong place for Rhubarb


by Christine Berglund

Up in the cooler northern states grows a wonderful plant that makes the most delicious pies. I used to pick rhubarb fresh out of my Daddy’s garden when I was little, and eat the sour red stems as a snack while I played outside with my brothers.

Nowadays, these brothers will do just about anything to get me to make a strawberry-rhubarb pie. I was recently even bribed with a delectable roast tenderloin for another pie. Yes, rhubarb is that good!

Sadly, this magnificent plant with a large, umbrella-like leaf cover does not grow well in the South.

I have tried seven or eight times, in various locations. I even planted one in a cage buried in the ground, so the moles wouldn’t disturb the roots. It never lived past the second year. A neighbor was able to grow a healthy stand of rhubarb, only to have it fade into oblivion one summer for no apparent reason.

In Iowa, you can’t kill the stuff. When we bought a house there, we discovered a few clumps underneath a woodpile, obviously meant to eradicate the plants. It came back with minimal care, and we sure enjoyed it!

Our neighbor had a massive bed of thick stalks shaded by its own foot-wide leaves. It grew across the property line, and we froze, canned and dried plenty  of it!

It’s all about proper location. Nobody I know can grow rhubarb in this area for long. It’s simply too hot in the summer, or the ground is too hard, or something is wrong with this Tennessee weather or soil. I give up.

We don’t seem to give up, however, in our attempts to grow our faith in harsh conditions. I’m not talking about mission fields; they are near and dear to my heart, and I pray for our missionaries constantly. They have an incredibly tough task, and they need our prayers as they strive to reap a harvest for the Lord in difficult conditions. What they do has a purpose.

Less purposeful, however, is the tendency for Christians to try to thrive in an area that is clearly not meant to be healthy for their faith.

  • Can you really evangelize the world when you are sharing crude jokes in a bar? 
  • Do your friends bring out the best in you, or cause you to say and do things that you regret later?
  • Do they go with you to help a sick friend paint his house and to the hospital to cheer up a child; or do they drag you to raunchy movies and parties?

Just like the inhospitable soil of Tennessee won’t allow my rhubarb to take hold, there are places and people that will not allow your soul to thrive and grow strong. Why, then, do you keep planting yourselves in the wrong places?

We are told to be in the world, but not of the world. When Jesus prayed for us, he asked “I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one” (John 17:15, NASB).

We cannot get too comfortable in the world we live in. If we plant ourselves here, this life will be our only reward, and we will miss eternal life. Our souls will die before we attain it.

I’m a firm believer in the “Bloom Where You Are Planted” mentality. But if we have a choice, we should plant ourselves in the places where we can thrive and serve God to the fullest.

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