The Wagner vegetable garden has been a constantly evolving labor of love over many years.
When Dana and I got married, I rented a tiller and put a little garden in the back yard of our rental house. Then a year or so later, when we bought our first tiny home way out in the country, I for some reason decided that I needed a tractor to prepare the ground. That was not exactly a wise choice.
Eight years ago, we were finally able to buy a house big enough for our family. And once again, we turned our attention to gardening. We tilled a spot behind the house that first year and fenced it in with a tiny landscaping fence. Our grumpy dog, Riley, simply jumped the fence and wallowed all over the plants.
A few years later, we added a bigger spot in the side yard, planting watermelons and cantaloupes, some okra and peppers. Summertime is when I get the busiest, preaching multiple weeks of youth camp as well as revivals, family conferences and other meetings. And that meant that the weeds had ample opportunity to run wild.
That is what led to this year’s sure-to-succeed foolproof garden plan — a 24x24 spot with landscaping timbers, river rock to walk on, some very nice planters, and an outdoor sink.
All of this took a lot of time and effort up front, but we expect to have a year-round garden now with a minimum of effort, mostly just a few minutes of watering each day. But all of that begs a question; why spend that amount of money and time on what can currently be purchased from the grocery store just 12 minutes away?
As a pastor, evangelist, school teacher, author and more, there is rarely ever a week that I do not work more than 70 hours. And yet I gladly give this extra time to our garden, not because it saves us tons of money, but because of all the intangibles that make life truly enjoyable. I like tomato sandwiches, especially when I can pull a fresh tomato right out of the garden to make them with. I like homegrown peppers on most everything. I adore crisp cucumbers in my salads and even my sandwiches. I also love being able to load up bags and baskets of produce and take them to church and give them away to the people I love and to anyone in need.
Psalm 90:10 says, “The days of our years are threescore years and ten (seventy years); and if by reason of strength they be fourscore (eighty) years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” Verse 12 follows up on that with, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” In other words, “teach us to recognize how fleeting life is, and to wisely make the most of every moment.”
It is pretty easy to waste a life. On one hand, we can give it to mostly meaningless things like television and social media and video games, throwing our brains into neutral and allowing our bodies to decay.
On the other hand, we can burn it out with nothing but work and realize far too late that there were people and things that should have mattered more to us along the way.
We have tried our best, in the midst of way too much work, to major on God and family and home and friends. Like our garden, we have found that you enjoy the fruits of what you actively cultivate. We are very close with all of our children, we enjoy our walk with the Lord, we love coming home each night to our garden and our house and our yard, and we stay in touch with precious friends, though not as well as we should.
I cannot imagine getting to the end of my life and realizing I did not grow a garden of vegetables, worship, family and friends.
Dr. Bo Wagner is pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Mooresboro, N.C, Email at 2knowhim@cbc- web.org.