Look at this bowl of perfect, ripe cherry tomatoes. There’s a story behind these tomatoes – a story that’s symbolic of my journey of faith.
I think I’ve mentioned before that there was a time, two-and-a-bit years ago, when I felt I’d reached the end of my last shred of hope. I was depressed, overworked, faithless and exhausted. Though the seed of my belief in Christ had been planted many years before that, and had bloomed for a season, it had been choked and strangled by the cares of the world and the busyness of my life.
Around that time, I wrote down the following on an autumn day…
The days are shorter, suddenly; the nights colder. The top branches of various trees are holding bright orange and rusty red leaves aloft; but the grass isn’t quite brown yet, and it’s still sunny and warm during the day.
My spirit is struggling within the routines of my city-bound body. I dream of russet meadows and foreign autumns, and I long for freedom. My life is lost like so much smoke in the dirt and noise of the city. I yearn for places I have never visited; heart-homes I only think I’ve seen.
I catch my expression in the morning mirror – sour at the instant knowledge that it will likely never be my lot to live other than I do now. I can’t see why or how I got here; I don’t feel I chose this path.
As I drive down the road in the morning, gusts of wind create swirling eddies of leaves, gathering briefly in the gutter before being blown away again. I feel as though I was made for a life that is lived in harmony with the seasons, but I can’t say why I feel that, since I’ve never lived that way before.
This all began when I went out into the sunshine, to pick warm, sweet, home-grown cherry tomatoes….
The tomatoes I was talking about there were from my parents’ garden. I’d been visiting my folks and was tasked with picking cherry tomatoes for our lunch that day. I remember standing in the sunshine and living fully in the moment as I closed my eyes and popped one warm tomato berry after the other into my mouth. (Don’t worry, I did save a few for our lunch!)
It was a moment so diametrically opposed to the rest of my life at the time – stuck in a stuffy office, working late and on weekends, dead tired from the endless banal cycle of my days – that it burned into my brain. From that one moment I began to dream differently, realising that there was a better life to be had than the one I was stuck in. After that autumn day Ninja and I began to research how we could move into a home with a garden and closer to our friends and family. We also began looking for a way out of my unfair work situation.
Yup. A good cherry tomato can have that effect! LOL
I believe the Lord began a work in my heart that day, restoring my faith and renewing my hope in His plan for my life. Fast forward two years later, and I can see the fruit of what He began that day.
Not only did God grant me a way out of my situation, giving me a season at home as a housewife and preparing a new home for me; He even went as far as growing a tomato plant for me!
That little green tuft in the dry soil is the cherry tomato plant that ‘randomly’ sprang up while we were building our home. No one planted it – even though it landed up exactly where I’d planned to start my own veggie patch. We never watered it, either, or cared for it in any way… but it took root, and grew into this:
So now, every few days, another bowlful of tomato berries ripens and waits to be picked. Which means that every few days I have the opportunity to relive that pivotal moment I had two autumns ago, and savour the sweet provision of the One who had a plan all along. It’s a reminder of where I was before; a reminder that strengthens my faith for the new worries and troubles I’m facing now.
I know that wasn’t quite what the psalmist was referring to in Psalm 34:8, but for me the flavour of the Lord’s goodness tastes remarkably similar to a handful of cherry tomatoes…!