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“And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you.”
-Luke 17:6

The summer before my senior year of high school, my mom told me that it is possible to grow an avocado plant from an avocado seed. She probably told me this information a few dozen times before hand, but that time it just happened to click. So in my excitement, I took the avocado seed I was holding, stuck some toothpicks in it and sat it in a cup of water to wait until it sprouted. With any luck, I’d be eating my very own avocados by the next summer. Horray!

Three months later I learned that it takes 15 years for an avocado plant to produce fruit – and that’s only if you have more than one avocado plant. To say the least, I was pretty disappointed. But my mommy, taking advantage of a teachable moment, equated the experience to faith and prayer and waiting on God. Good things take time to grow. And that lesson stuck with me. I’ve since been able to build on the analogy, and I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned.

1. Seeds

I don’t remember how long it took the first time I tried growing an avocado plant from a seed, but the 2nd time around took FOREVER. I’m pretty sure my seed took about 2 months to crack open, and when it finally did crack open, I thought I’d killed it. But after a few days, I began to see the root buds growing downward, and eventually a little shoot coming up from the top. Elated like no other.

“In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
-Luke 15:10

I have a few friends I’ve been praying for their salvation. I’ve spent years waiting for their hearts to “crack open.” I have no guarantee that they will be saved, and there have been many instances that I thought I should just give up and focus on something that is more instantly gratifying. But, like I have no control over when the seed sprouts or grows, I have no control over the hearts of others. I can share the gospel, I can follow up with that person, but ultimately it is God that works within the person and causes understanding and growth.

I’m still praying for my friends, holding out on the hope that one day they will understand and believe the gospel. And when that day comes I’m pretty sure I’ll be going crazy with the angels.

2. Growing

I hate bugs. I hate gardening. In general I just kill plants (which is why my avocado plant is pretty amazing). Back in the early days of Girl’s Group we did a flower potting thing and painted pots and planted flowers in them. I decided to be all symbolic and write “faith” on my pot. If I were superstitious, two weeks later I would have been utterly devastated and quite frightened at my withered and very dead flower sitting in my pot of “faith.” You see, I kept forgetting to water it (either that or I remembered and then didn’t). It was almost the same with my avocado plant. Its early months were pretty lacking in the area of regular watering. It wasn’t until my family and I went on vacation and I left it out by the sprinkler system that I came back to a healthy, well watered, happy plant. Regular watering works wonders for the growth of a plant.

So why not faith as well?

You’d think it’d be second nature to me, reading my Bible. I mean, I grew up Christian, I go to a Bible church, and “READ YOUR BIBLE!” has more or less been beaten into my head since I’ve been able to read. If anything, the Bible is the main reason literacy exists! But in spite of all its importance, my tendency is to not read my Bible, and that is what frustrates me most. It’s like kindergarten, when you plant those silly lima beans and then constantly compare the growth of your sprout with that of the other children’s – only instead of lima beans I’m left comparing faith and spiritual maturity. I could wallow in self pity here, but hearing the constant prayer request of desiring to spend more time in the Word reminds me that it’s every believers struggle. I actually don’t have a “lesson learned” for this. I’m still working on consistently walking with God. So I suppose that this is more of an encouragement to strive to be in the Word daily. Accountability group, anyone?

“Other seeds fell into the good soil, and as they grew up and increased, they yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.”
-Mark 4:8

By the way, the quality of the dirt your plant is growing in determines how much water your plant will hold over time. The dirt absorbs the water received and makes sure that the plant doesn’t dry out. Otherwise you’ll just water your plant and all the water will drain straight through the dirt and it’s like you never watered it at all…

3. Grafting

The fastest way for an avocado plant to bear fruit is to take a branch from a tree that is already bearing fruit and to graft it onto your young avocado plant. The process works as so:

  1. Take small branch from fruit bearing avocado plant.
  2. Make a cut in non-fruit bearing avocado plant and insert branch from fruit bearing avocado plant.
  3. Bind and let grow together.
  4. When strong enough, whack off non-fruit bearing avocado branch and let fruit bearing branch take over.

And if that made absolutely no sense, please turn to figure 1.

Quite honestly it’s amazing what my brain remembers. However, after I Google image searched for a diagram, I realized that there are other methods of grafting branches, but whatevs. That is how I learned grafting.

Maybe it’s just me, but grafting is pretty ridiculous. You’re basically taking two different trees and splicing them together, Frankentree style. It’s how you can end up with one half of a tree producing oranges and the other half producing apples. There’s probably a science behind which trees/plants you can actually graft together, but isn’t that just fascinating? The original tree just accepts the foreign branch and nourishes it as though it were any other branch it had grown.

“If the first piece of dough is holy, the lump is also; and if the root is holy, the branches are too. But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you.”
-Romans 11:16-18

If the root is holy, the branches are too. Me, a wild olive, grafted into the rich root of the olive tree. Who does that?! When you graft something, you usually want to take a branch from a good tree, something that will enhance the entire plant. The tree has good roots? Then you graft in a branch from a nice, well cultivated, proven tree with good fruit! Not a wild plant. Yet that’s exactly what God did. He took me, someone who has nothing to offer, and grafted me into the rich roots of His son. And that is a strange and wonderful thing.

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.”
-John 15: 4-6

So there you have it, folks. Lessons from an avocado plant.