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Giving Away the Produce

All of it?

“I'd like to save it for the produce stand.”

The answer to my question about picking some zucchini for my family after spending an hour weeding corn made it official that “God's Garden,” which had functioned last year as a poorly organized community garden free for all, was definitely an outreach ministry this year. This meant that all the vegetables we raised would first be given freely to people in the community through our two weekly produce stands. We the hard workers who came several times a week to pull weeds and harvest vegetables could divide up whatever was left.

It came as no surprise, really. The pastor had made it clear that it would be this way. In the weeks before we'd put up signs, passed out fliers and in general got the word out that we were giving away free produce to all who wanted it.

Last year my husband and I had canned and frozen bushels of corn, beets and carrots and the bounty had lasted us right up until spring. We enjoyed our last batch of frozen corn on the cob well after the new corn was planted and I still have a few jars of beets and carrots. I'd already frozen a bit of spinach and peas from this year and was counting on getting as much or more of the bounty as we did last year. I did not like the idea of first giving it all away. Not one bit. My family needs this food.

The gap

And yet I found myself not only cooperating with the church wide efforts to get the word out, I also went well out of my way to help. Not only did I help pass out fliers in my town, but I roped my neighbor into helping. The two of us, along with the other church member who volunteered, were just enough to get the job done. We got fliers delivered to the entire town except for a trailer park outside of town. Less than a week later I met a resident from the trailer park at the local cafe and before I knew it I was telling her all about the produce stand. By the end of the evening she had agreed to hand out fliers to all her neighbors.

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding and my entire will, all I have and call my own.

You have given all to me. To you, Lord, I return it. Everything is yours; do with it what you will. Give me only your love and your grace. That is enough for me.

It's a simple case of a divided heart. I have prayed prayers like the one above for the greater part of my life, and I have meant every word. God knows that I truly want him to have and direct my life as he wills no matter where the journey takes me.

But God in his mercy also recognizes that there is a gap between my heart's desire and where my heart is right now, and it's his mission to close that gap. Rather than ask me to lay down something as priceless as my entire life today, he has asked me for something much easier: that I be willing to give away all the produce from the garden.

“What? Are you kidding me! That is way too much to ask. My family needs the food!”

OK, now I too see the gap. If I can't freely give up some vegetables that aren't mine to begin with, how can I possibly freely give God my life, which I have to admit I feel a huge sense of ownership about?

Getting there

Fortunately, the ability to give him more of my life is as simple as giving him (via the people he loves in my community) the first and best of the vegetables I've been working all summer to raise. And now that I see where this is going I see that it really is something I can do wholeheartedly.

And for the record so far we have yet to give away absolutely everything at one of our produce stands. I've always been able to take something home with me.

Non-fiction | Religion | Catholicism


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