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August 27, 2021
Last summer a forgotten pumpkin sitting in a pile of leaves by our front door sprouted and began to vine over the lawn. We thought it a sign of hope in a difficult time. We let it grow into a harvest of two pumpkins and cleared the vine.
That, I thought, was that. Not quite.
A few weeks ago, a familiar-looking plant began to grow by our front door. We went on vacation and came home to a vine that was had started to grow across the walk and sprouted yellow flowers.
Our pumpkin plant is back, and I’m not sure what to make of it: Is it a sign of my sloppy landscaping? Should it remind me of the persistence and stubborn insistence of a bad habit, or the coronavirus, or the weeds that devil our best efforts to beautify our life? I don’t think so. We have thistle plants for that. So, if not all that, then what? A sign of hope or grace, perhaps? I decided to leave things there. For one thing, hope and grace are never one and done wonders. For another, the Bible is full of stories like our pumpkin vine.
Moses let his anger get the better of him, gets run out of Egypt, only to be sent back to lead his people out of Egypt and into the promised land. Peter crosses Jesus who allows him to witness the Transfiguration. Walking on the water, Peter loses sight of Jesus who saves him from drowning. Peter swears he will never give up on Jesus, and when he denies Jesus three times, Jesus invites him to feed his sheep. Mark bails out on Jesus and is picked up by Paul. Then he bails out on Paul and after Barnabas picks him back up again, Mark may have gone on to assist both Paul and Peter before writing his gospel. If God could keep hope and offer grace after grace to likes of these, then I have every reason God to think will do the same with us.
There is one thing, though.
Our pumpkin plant is off to a late start. This is worrisome. The growing season might end before our vine can ripen a pumpkin. Or not. Either way, I think the truth our vine tells was best put in a Colin Gibson lyric that says: “Nothing is lost to the heart of God… God’s heart is love and that will remain, holding the world forever… No beginning too late, no ending too soon, but is gathered, and known in its goodness.”