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Growing Corn and Kids
Photo: J. Vaitkeviciene
Every spring our family plants a big garden. With five children and three acres we have plenty of room and plenty of need. But it’s more than just having good food to put on our table. Planting a garden helps us grow in our characters. And if there is one quality that children (and adults) especially need help with, it is learning the value of delayed gratification.

Preparing the soil for our garden each spring is hard work. Not only do nutrients need to be put back into the dirt, but the ground is hard from sitting all winter and needs to be broken up. One round with the roto-tiller won’t cut it. We usually make three passes to really soften the earth. It’s the same way with God’s truth being planted into the hearts of our children. Jesus’ parable of the farmer planting seed (Matthew 13) shows that the condition of the soil determines the harvest.

Planting seed is always fun for our kids. We buy seed packets, lay out rows, poke holes in the ground and drop in the seeds. They are like little promises of hope. We do our part, God does the rest. Parents may do the same with the hearts of their children. We may faithfully conduct family worship times with our kids, but the results may not show up right away. Just as we patiently wait for the crop to spring up, so we need to trust that God is working with the seeds we’ve planted into their minds.

Caring for the garden is always challenging. It takes more work to hoe, pull weeds, water, and keep pests away. Instead of tending the garden once a week, we spread the work throughout the week. We have our children weed two rows a day at least four times a week (we have about 50 rows). Dad and Mom help as well. In the same way, it works better to care for your children’s hearts a little bit everyday. Lots of training once a week isn’t nearly as effective as a little bit each day.

Harvest time is exciting! The children are always ready to pick a bowl of tomatoes or bring in a bag full of corn. There is something rewarding about practicing patience and seeing the results of waiting. This is true with our children’s characters. We can’t expect them to grow up overnight spiritually.

Perhaps this is the lesson Jesus taught when he explained, “All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head” (Mark 4:28). Planting a garden with your children has many benefits. It provides good exercise, it develops team work, and the delicious food is worth the effort. But waiting patiently for the garden to grow is the best fruit of all—the harvest of children who learn to love the Master Gardener.

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By Curtis Rittenour. Copyright © 2010 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®.

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