Green_tomatoes

A second chance

It is time in middle Tennessee for what we call the “second crop” of vegetables to be planted. I am about to plant my cucumbers for pickling. No, not the second crop, like some are doing. This will be the first round.

It is great to have a long growing season, as the vegetable garden didn’t get planted as early as usual. The extended season is giving me a second chance at having fresh tomatoes to freeze or can, and plenty of zucchini to steam, grill, bake into bread, and finally to foist on my neighbors.

By now, hopefully, a friend that had asked me for some vegetable seeds has received them in the mail. Since I was preoccupied with other things and didn’t plant early, I also forgot to send the seeds to her. I’m thankful she is the type who can give someone a second chance when that person fails to deliver speedily on a promise!

A second chance is more than just forgiveness. It’s about starting over. My tomatoes will be very late. Two years ago they were similarly late, and I was met with awe-struck faces when I served fresh tomatoes to guests. “My tomatoes have all quit producing, and we pulled up the plants,” they said.

Well, mine were put in late; which meant that they were still going strong in October. I made pickled green tomatoes when frost was expected. I thought nothing of having green tomatoes on the vine so late, since it happened all the time in the north where I grew up. The growing season was so short that we grew to expect it.

But there were no second chances on planting late tomatoes up there.

Even in the south, there are no second chances for crops such as cabbage or spinach, which require colder temperatures. I will have to wait until next spring. Next spring! Well, there’s my second chance for beets and spinach! Gardening is a lot like baseball. The most-used phrase seems to be, “Just wait until next season!”

God gives us all a second chance at eternal life. Sure, we failed miserably by not living up to his standards. That doesn’t mean there is no hope!

“Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity And passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession?
He does not retain His anger forever,
Because He delights in unchanging love” (Micah 7:18, NASB).

God’s own son Jesus came to give us that second chance. Sometimes even a third, fourth, or fifty-eighth chance. But while he does not retain his anger forever, we cannot flippantly take advantage of his lovingkindness. As they say in advertising, “Some restrictions may apply.”

One such restriction is that we have to be repentant, rather than assume that we are entitled to an unlimited supply of chances.

“Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’” (Acts 2:38).

Another thing to consider is that, like our growing season, the season of God’s mercy has an end. As I rushed to save my tomatoes from the icy fingers of the coming frost, we must be diligent to be ready when the cold hand of death touches us.

What a comfort it is that God gives us a second chance!

 “Even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)” (Ephesians 2:5).

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Christine (Tina) Berglund

Christine lives in middle Tennessee with her husband Gary, a.k.a. "The Yard Boy." They have served churches in eight states where Gary has preached full-time most of their married lives. The children have flown the nest, but they "baby" their plants now, and even get to visit grandchildren once in a while.

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