Tending Corn and Boys

picture of corn row after hoeing and thinning

Season's First Hoeing

I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. (John 15:1-2)

Gazing across the vegetable garden with a sense of pride mingled with hope, I see the plants are all sprouted and growing nicely.  The corn, my personal favorite, is 6 inches to 24 inches in height, depending on the individual plant.

And the weeds!  The weeds have begun to flourish as well.  If I don’t act soon, they’ll take over the garden, choking out the infant vegetables.

With a sigh, I grab a hoe and get to work.

I hoe the weeds up one side of each corn row, stopping just short of the corn.  Reaching the end of the row, I turn and come back down the other side, this time hoeing between the corn plants themselves, within the row.

Except this is the season’s first weeding, and many of the corn plants are too close.  So, as I hoe the weeds, I also methodically thin the corn plants.

Dawson, our 10-year-old, comes out asking to help.  I’m pleasantly surprised by his request.  Everyone gets excited about planting and harvesting, but the drudge of daily garden tending is usually left to me.

Dawson brings his hoe, then stares aghast at the corn plants I’ve culled.  Glaring at me as though I had committed murder before his eyes, he accuses, “You’re cutting down the corn!”

“I know,” I explain.  “Remember, I told you that we would have to thin the plants once they came up.  Corn planted too close crowd each other out and don’t produce well.”

“But you cut down good plants!” the accusation continues, “See this one?  It was a big healthy plant before you cut it down!”

“Dawson,” I explain, “It’s not about maximizing the number of corn plants.  It’s about maximizing the crop yield and managing limited resources.  For each square foot of garden, there are only so many nutrients in the soil, and when we hit a dry spell, there will only be so much water.  If we leave the corn too crowded, it will all be unhealthy and produce poorly.  I’m not necessarily culling the smallest plants, but the most crowded plants.”

Dawson seems pleased when I ask him to finish out the row.  He takes the task seriously, asking which plants are too close. 

“Make sure you can easily fit a hoe in between all the plants,” I offer.  “If they’re too close to fit a hoe between, then one has to go.”

Walking down the row I find three plants crowded close together, with the tallest in the middle.

“Which will you cull?” I ask.  “You can keep the tall one and cull the two on either side, or you can cull the tall one and keep the other two.”

This is a tough decision for Dawson.  After careful consideration, he culls the tall plant.

Although laborious, eradicating weeds does not require difficult choices.  The hard decisions are in deciding which healthy corn plants to keep and nurture, and which to cull.

Walking back to the house, I’m thinking not about raising corn, but about raising boys. 

I recall the decision, last year, to cease involvement in our church children’s program, after over twelve years of teaching God’s word to young boys.  I still support the program, and believe it to be a valuable ministry, but felt I could no longer be directly involved, due to schedule constraints.

Weekday evenings have become a carefully protected time in our family, as we help Dawson with his school work.  The ADHD medicine helps him focus enough to work in the class room, but has worn off by the time he gets home.  He struggles to complete the homework that increases with each advance in grade level.

My words to Dawson echo in my mind, as I watch him put the hoe away, “It’s not about maximizing the number of corn plants. It’s about maximizing the crop yield and managing limited resources.”

Lord, please grant us wisdom in maximizing Your influence in this young man’s life.  Holy Spirit, please cause God’s word to sink deep roots and flourish in the fertile soil of his tender heart.

Have you ever ceased involvement in a valued ministry to focus on another calling?

 [Linked to God Bumps , Beholding Glory , Graceful , Seedlings , Wellspring ]

21 thoughts on “Tending Corn and Boys

  1. I love this! So creative (and true) on the challenges and needs associated with raising crops… and kids. 🙂 Great job weaving thought-provoking ideas together with real life situations. This really blessed me today.

    PS: Praying for a wonderful yield with your crop this year– for your corn– and your boys.

  2. A great lesson for Dawson … and now for us as well.

    And I got a kick out of this truth: “Everyone gets excited about planting and harvesting, but the drudge of daily garden tending is usually left to me.” We’ve got a bit of that going on here with our little gardeners. 🙂

    • Isn’t it funny how that works? Everyone wants to do the fun parts of gardening, but then can’t be found in the weed-pulling stages… 😉

      Thank you, Jennifer!

    • I should add that Dawson seems to be taking the gardening more seriously, this year. He wanted to plant a patch of melons and pumpkins that he is treating as his personal responsibility. Pretty cool to see him stepping up!

    • Amen! He let’s us participate in planting and tending, but He is the one who brings the increase!

      Thank you, Alicia!

  3. Hello, I am visiting from Jennifer’s link up. I love your post, and as I read that your son has ADHD, I knew why God sent me here, of all the posts I could have clicked on. My son, age 10, has ADHD hyperactive/impulsive type, and OCD, as well as a couple other anxiety-related letters. I know so few people who deal with this condition. I feel blessed to have found your blog. Our son is on 10 mg Strattera, but it only curbs a bit of the hyperactivity. He is still quite impulsive and as he gets older, he’s becoming more aggressive. But thank God, he is a Believer! This is a difficult road to walk for the whole family. I will check in here often and keep you in my prayers.

    Thanks again, Christine

    • Wow! I think this is the first time I’ve mentioned Dawson’s ADHD on this blog.

      It is definitely a challenge for a parent!

      It is also very difficult for most people to understand. Many times other parents see what they perceive as a spoiled brat in need of discipline, with no understanding that it is often a matter of inability to control impulses.

      I appreciate your prayers, Christine, and will pray for your family, as well.

  4. We often have to cut back and eliminate activities and involvement to make the ones we do participate in valuable. My oldest is easily overstimulated and it can cause behavior problems so we monitor how much we do. Great analogy and prayer. Blessings!

    • Oh, yes! The over-abundance of children’s activities…each one good…but too much of a good thing is not so good. We’re familiar with those sorts of cuts, too.

      It really is a case of “less is more” isn’t it, Christina?

      Great example!

  5. Wow!!!! That was an awesome analogy!
    We have just returned from a few days in the San Francisco bay area and as you know we were looking at uprooting our family and moving there to join a mission to reach the bay area through multiple, small independent, community church plants. With over 7 million people in less than 7,000 sq miles (compared to Arkansas < 3 million in 53,000sq miles) we are excited about the opportunities but at the same time we are aware of the huge spiritual, cultural, and religious challenges.

    God has placed us at New Life Church in what was named in 2010 as the fastest growing church in the US. I could tell story after story of why and how we ended up there but that’s not where I’m headed… To give an idea of how large they have grown, in Feb of 2010 NLC celebrated our 10 year anniversary by renting Verizon Arena and packing it with 14,000 members from all over the state.

    God has blessed us in so many ways by allowing us to be a part of this ministry and positioning me as a part on the church leadership team and as a good friend of one of the pastors on staff, but at the same time he has called me out of this safe zone to the unknown.

    Now we are entering a new season where He has called us out of a ministry where we are comfortable and fully integrated, sent us on a mission, and called us to bear “much fruit!”

    • An excellent example, Michael!

      I’ve enjoyed seeing your pic’s of San Francisco area posted on Facebook. That is a very beautiful area.

      I’m continuing to pray for you and Erin as you venture forth on this new mission. Go forth and be fruitful! 🙂

  6. It is a often a heartbreaking decision to pull out the activities or commitments that we love. I often have more on my plate than I can comfortably deal with too, Joe. I appreciate the reminder that it is for a greater, higher purpose–to “cull” our lives when it takes us away from what is the best.

    Also, I can relate to a son with ADHD. Our son is now almost 19 and is finally overcoming some of the challenges that interfered in his life while in grade and high school. I will pray for you both as you face all the difficulties that come with that issue.

    • Thank you, Beth! I appreciate the prayers. The ADHD is definitely a challenge…and we’re learning as we go…

  7. A perfect metaphor! Great storytelling too, Joe. Thinning out the growth is such a hard task and you capture that perfectly. Such tension there is in growing a good harvest–especially of boys.

    • Yes, lots of tough decisions with sometimes painful choices. I am so thankful for the guidance of The Holy Spirit!

      Thank you, Laura!

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