The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Some broccoli!

At summer's end, the plant that wouldn't thrive provided a surprise harvest

When we bought our first house, I Rototilled a plot and planted a garden. Saturday morning at the farmers' market, I bought various vegetable sets including broccoli, which we really like.

After I placed the vegetables in rows in the ground, I had one broccoli plant left. I put it in at the back of the plot. My garden thrived, except for that broccoli at the back. It produced nothing except leaves that curled and wrinkled like a sick plant.

Why? Maybe it needs more fertilizer, water or spray for pests, I thought. But nothing helped.

Then it occurred to me: Perhaps I had it backward. Am I watering, fertilizing and spraying too much? So one-by-one I quit watering, fertilizing, weeding and applying pesticides. But the broccoli didn't improve, so I gave up. I had lots else to do--work, kids, chores.

When summer ended, like a good gardener I pulled up dried-up okra stalks and tomato vines. When I'd worked my way to the back of the garden, I saw that broccoli--covered with Brussels sprouts!

Somehow at the farmers' market a Brussels sprout plant got mixed in with the broccoli set. All summer long I'd thought something was wrong with the plant at the back of the garden.But those leaves wrinkled and rolled up because that's what Brussels sprouts do.

I'd done everything trying to stop the plant from becoming what it was--Brussels sprouts. I tried to do what only God can do, change its basic nature.

Remembering that "broccoli" makes me wonder: Do I ever make wrong assumptions about people or circumstances? Do I ever try to change individuals or situations from what God intended, instead of trying to be "an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master" (2 Timothy 2:21)? Do I do good things when what's needed is the right thing?


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