Here it is, the middle of April, and my poor little tomato is at risk again. I’m not a gambler by nature, really. I like to play it safe. But the stakes are high when we are talking beefsteaks. Well, beefsteak tomatoes, that is.
A month ago in mid-March it was so mild that my mind went back to the year we had a tomato ripen in April. It would have tasted better the first or second day of May, but we couldn’t resist the feeling of being able to say, “We ate our first tomato in April.”
Do you see what I did there? Maybe another column will deal with boasting, but for today it will be ignored.
Yes, we really did harvest a fresh, red tomato in April six years ago. Since there was no frost in the forecast this year in March, I decided to put a “Big Boy” tomato in the ground. Just one. Maybe – just maybe – we could have a repeat of that unusually early delight to our palates.
A week later, the promising plant was cut down to a third of its height by an overnight freeze. The blackened top taunted me for taking such a risk. It would have completely died if hadn’t been covered up right before nightfall.
Now, once again, the forecast calls for frosts for the next two nights. I’m hearing chatter from all the gardening circles about covering up azaleas, peonies, clematis, and of course the tomatoes.
This time, an overturned planting pot will be the Big Boy’s protection. I guess I took a foolish risk, and almost lost. At best, I lost time in which I spent coddling a tender plant that shouldn’t have been put out in the first place.
But the temptation for early tomatoes was too great! It seemed worth the risk. Did I mention that year when we harvested a tomato in April? (Yes, yes; I’ll start on that column about boasting this weekend!)
We risk so much more than tomatoes every day. We give in to temptations in spite of our knowledge of the risks of transgressing God’s law. What risk, you ask?
“For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23:a, NASB). I risked death to my tomato plant because I had a mental “Oooh, shiny” moment. No big deal. I wasted only $2.50, even if it dies tonight. “But what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26). One of those moments of weakness may cost you your eternal soul.
Thankfully, we have a covering, spiritually!
“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, and whose sins have been covered” (Romans 4:7).
Like the careful gardener covering up the tender plants to protect them, God covers us! Foolish, rebellious, or not — God loves us and provides for our human frailties.
Will I put out more tomatoes tomorrow, with the risk of freezing imminent? That would be pushing the envelope.
Likewise, while we rejoice that our transgressions are covered (Psalm 32:1), we don’t keep up the bad behavior just because we can be forgiven. True gratitude for God’s grace does not allow for willful sin.
“What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!” (Romans 6:15).
God covered his people with a cloud when they crossed the Red Sea (Psalm 105:39). The blood of Jesus covers our sins now.
It’s only fair that with all that protection, we should be bearing fruit for God!