I\’ve got tomatoes, my own tomatoes, homegrown on the vine in my flower garden tomatoes. In June Tracy, a dear friend, treated me like a queen for my birthday. She and her charming children ushered me to wonderful spots around Minneapolis and St Paul…you know, WONDERFUL places like the Basilica, the St Paul Cathedral, the Farmer\’s Market, really cool urban luncheon spots, etc. etc. etc. I was spoiled rotten and overwhelmed with their kindness and generosity.
At the Farmer\’s Market I bought a tomato plant–my first ever. Asked the seller what kind of light it needed and he, with a kind but incredulous smile, noted that fruits and vegetables need full sunlight…think farmer\’s fields here. We do live in Minnesota which is, in large part, still farmerville, especially where we live…so this should have been a no brainer, even to dear old me.
So, I grabbed that plant and then, because I hate gardening, proceeded to ignore it for a few days, maybe even a week. Then I got serious, time to plant it, I thought. There were Tracy\’s kids to think of, what if they ask about that tomato plant! So in a bare spot in my flower garden (out of the shade) I plunked it in the ground, and thereafter neglected it. On odd occasion I visited it…it kept growing even though I never watered it. I never staked it and it landed on its side with roots half uprooted, yet it kept growing.
The other day I figured I should look again. The plant is large and full of tomatoes. Most of them are green as can be still, but four of them were large and ripe, perfectly ripe for picking. They are my firstfruits.
The New Testaments talks about firstfruits: Jesus is the firstfruits of the resurrected life (1 Cor. 15:20). We, as His followers, are born again to new life through the word of truth \”that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all He created.\” (James 1:18)
Well, my firstfruit tomatoes are exciting, beautiful and oh, so good (the smell of fried bacon lingers–we\’ve been enjoying BLTs). I gave Mom two of them, as she loves tomatoes. Even with all that is going on in her life right now (Nels, her husband, is still in the hospital, no prognosis yet), yesterday she gushed about their flavor and the enjoyment of her favorite sandwich: a tomato sandwich.
I\’m still learning about firstfruits (as this is my inaugural experience with them). It seems to me, though, that they are the ones that usher in a new experience of life. They get all the press (well, for sure Jesus should get all the press!), yet those green tomatoes will most likely ripen and nourish later. The firstfruits have paved the way, set the stage, opened the door for others to come. I am now waiting and watching more closely for the green tomatoes to ripen. I expect more, for it is the season of harvest.
Gets me thinking about the firstfruits of the Spirit in my life, about those early encounters with God. Miraculous healing born out of obedience was one of the first…what a juicy tomato that was! God used it to solidify a new way of seeing and being, a new orientation toward God in my life (don\’t you know it!). Other encounters have happened, some just as miraculous and unforeseen, but none as exciting. Why? Because although they bring life, I expect that kind of life now, I expect other tomatoes to ripen and bring nourishment to others and myself. Because of Christ, tomatoes happen, tomatoes ripen, just a part of normal life.
Yep, the firstfruits get all the press, but they should, for they are the headlines that capture people\’s hearts, that point people to the Giver of all Life, that inaugurate Hope where none exists, that wake people up to the fact that God is still doin\’ His thing, that He sees us, and that He wants to walk hand in hand with us.
So, spotted any ripe tomatoes in your garden yet?