A working definition for discipleship has been hard for me to pin down. I’ve read books, talked to people, followed blogs, and listened to speakers. I’ve been “discipled” and have met in pairs and groups to disciple young ladies. The thing about discipleship is that it is different every time and doesn’t fit in a neat box, as much as I want it to. I was reminded about this very thing during a fantastic experience I had this week.
Friends of ours run a farm and sell their produce at a roadside stand, among other places. We have a little garden in our backyard, but it is tiny compared to Jason and Amie’s operation. Growing up, my dad put in a sizable garden, and though we started some plants from seed sown directly in the ground, we went to the nursery to get tomatoes and other plants that need more time to mature. At the Philip farm, they do everything from seed to product.
About a month ago I was talking to Amie at a sandwich shop about their planting schedule. It was just about time for them to start planting and she was telling me all about her greenhouse. I asked if I could come over and see the operation, and she said that not only could I come, but I could bring some of my own seeds and have a spot in the greenhouse.
When I went down this week, she had seeds and plants in several stages of the growing process. First, we set my seeds to germinate on paper towels. Then she took me out to the greenhouse to show me how she transplanted some germinated seeds to dirt, and then some older plants to bigger pots. The next batch was ready to go out to the greenhouse for controlled temperature and water until it is warm enough outside for their final transplant in the garden.
As she went through the steps, we talked about family and what we had been up to. We laughed and shared life, all while she was showing me what to do with the plants. Along the way, she talked about some of the difficulties of raising food to sell…how people in our area stick with familiar varieties and it is hard to get them to try something new, how she has to continually take classes to keep up with changing standards, and how people complain about paying $.25 for a tomato. Then she said something profound, “It is a lot of hard work. I guess you have to love it to do it.”
This brings me back to discipleship. It can be messy, hard work that takes time to do and time to see any product, but it comes back to love. For Amie, she loves the process of gardening. And I’m sure she loves the sweet goodness of eating a vegetable fresh from the garden that she has hand nurtured from a tiny seed and then selling that good food on to people. Believe me, taking a bite out of one of Amie’s tomatoes is a vast difference from what you normally find in the supermarket aisles. For a Christ-follower, it is not so much that we love the discipleship process, though that sometimes happens, too, but we love Jesus so much that we want to share him with people. We have found something good and we want other people to see how good he is.
With Amie, she shared hospitality and Jesus with me even as she went about her greenhouse work. As she talked I saw how her relationship with God influences everything from her business to her marriage and parenting. She is a natural teacher and I came away encouraged. I’m super excited to see how my seeds do in the greenhouse, but I’m even more thankful for the time spent with a sister of faith. If you are in the area this summer or fall, keep an eye out for her stand. Or better yet, visit this spring to pick your own strawberries! As for discipleship, keep working at it. Learn more, but also take heart that your love for Jesus shines out as you live your day-to-day life for him.
(My wife wrote this blog. She's the one with the green thumb in our family. I have a hard time keeping plants alive around our home.)