by: DALE NESSMITH
“Brought beds, and basins, and earthen vessels, and wheat, and barley, and flour, and parched corn, and beans, and lentils, and parched pulse, and honey, and butter and sheep, and cheese of kine, for David, and for the people that were with him, to eat: for they said, The people is hungry, and weary, and thirsty, in the wilderness.” II Samuel 17:28,29
It was not an accident that Jesus revealed Himself after His resurrection to a woman in a garden. Nor did Jesus pray just before He went to the cross to die for us in any ole place – He prayed in a garden! I am thankful I can have and work in my home vegetable garden. Even though I could probably buy the vegetables at the grocery store for less than I can grow them at home, I still choose eating out of the garden. Also, I find that working in the garden provides a lot of sacred moments. Sacred moments are sort of like speed bumps in some highways which are there to slow us down and prepare us for what’s ahead – stopping. Gardens are great places to sweat as well. Most preachers don’t sweat enough. I liken physical sweat to getting the sin out of my thoughts; like doubt and fear and lust. You won’t think as many evil thoughts when you’re sweating. What you will think about is Jesus, for He is the Water of Life. Remember Jesus sweated in a garden once. He didn’t sweat out any sinful thoughts though – for He had no sin. He sweated blood because of the cross and suffering that loomed before Him.
“And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” Luke 22:44
Really, our hearts are like gardens in that God has prepared a place to plant the seed of eternal life which will provide the sustaining fruit of the Holy Spirit that will bring Him, The Master Gardener, glory and help us on our trek through the wilderness of this world. Just like our home gardens, nothing will come out of the garden but what is put in by the gardener. The garden is a fountain of good things and all good things come from God for He is a good, good Father who is good all the time.
God, nor we, can plant a garden and just walk off and leave it and expect much of a harvest. A garden must be worked and cared for. Every time I go to my garden, I see some weeds growing that were not there the last time I looked. Pulling weeds out of my garden reminds me of the necessity of removing the sins in my own life. The best time to get rid of the weeds in the garden and the sins in our lives is when the weeds are small. Just after a rain is a good time to pull weeds and sins too. The saturated soil and a broken heart are similar scenarios for good weeding.
The primary reason for having a garden though is not for sweating or sacred moments nor even for the serenity. The main reason for planting a garden is for food. If we didn’t enjoy eating out of the garden, you can be sure I would not make the effort to prepare, plant and cultivate that spot. Jesus Christ would not have prayed in a garden nor would He have suffered and died on the cross if we could have made it without the Bread of Life. All believers who treasure the Lord Jesus as their personal Savior eat out of the garden of God every day!
“And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” John 6:35
Although we enjoy the Silver Queen corn and the red Irish potatoes from our garden, the most favorite vegetable we get out of the garden is peas. It is true, “you can’t get above your raisin’.” Peas and rice are what I grew up eating; and, just like the heart of a child of God is tuned by God’s grace, my palate has been toned by peas. Peas are simple, but they are just pure good food in my opinion. I could eat peas every day and it doesn’t matter what kind of peas either. Black eyes, pink eyes, zipper, crowder or sadandy are good to me. I know it’s not ‘etiquettely’ correct, but I will sometimes drink the juice (pot liquor) from a cooking of peas. Now you won’t find peas on the menu at Panera Bread nor at Longhorns. You may be able to get some on the buffet line at Fordham’s or Ole Times, but they won’t taste like those right out of the garden. Most of the time God’s best and most needed blessings come to us in the simplest, purest and nearest way; right out of our garden.
“The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.” Psalm 34:10
No one would argue that seeking the Lord should be our first pri- ority every day. And He says when we really want to find Him, He will show up. So, let’s seek in a most likely place, the garden, and ask Him to “pass the peas, please!”
Peas are planned
The peas I am now enjoying eating out of our garden didn’t just pop up there growing wild. They are there because I planned their being planted, when I would plant them, and what kind of peas would be planted. Did you know that you and I are plantings of the Lord?
“To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion,
to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of
joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the
spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees
of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.” Isaiah 61:3
Never doubt that you have been born to live on this earth at this very time for a divine purpose. In fact, our lives are so much on purpose that every day we find ourselves right in the middle of God’s providential plans. We are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb so we can “pass the peas” of God’s redeeming grace to others. The fruit of the spirit is sort of like the peas out of the garden of our hearts which God has prepared to bring Him glory and provide good works. Good works are what we are saved to perform. Good works are the virtuous things God’s Holy Spirit enables us to do which bring glory to Him and helps and strengthens others. The best works that we can do may be “passing the peas” to someone, especially when we consider that those peas come from a specially prepared place with a definite, divine purpose, the heart of God, one which He has made alive!
Peas have to be planted
Passing the peas won’t happen without planting the peas. Likewise, God could not have passed over our sins unless His only begotten Son had been planted in a borrowed tomb. The sprouting of a seed is a good metaphor for the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. But without Jesus being planted, our sin debt could not have been paid and we would still be lost in our sins and doomed to live eternally separated from God in hell.
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23
It is so wonderful to know that Jesus is alive! When He appeared to Mary in the garden after He rose from the grave, there must have been lots of birds singing, bees humming, butterflies flitting and peas blooming. I don’t think we appreciate near enough the fact that all our sins, past, present and future have been forgiven because Jesus took our place on the cross of Calvry, died there for us and rose again to seal the deal of God’s redeeming love. What’s more, even though we still sin every day, we have the privilege to confess those sins to Jesus, our advocate and intercessor, and to be cleansed from all unrighteousness. God always has a pot of peas cooking on His holy stove. He knows, just like our need for daily forgiveness, we always come back for seconds.
Peas are for Provision
Country comedian and devout Christian Jerry Clower told the story of a man in Mississippi who would go and lay down in the peas growing in the garden when a storm came up. When the man was asked why he went to the pea patch instead of seeking shelter in the house, the man
said that the peas had saved him so many times he just knew they would save him from the storm. I have to admit that I have been in some restau- rants where I could not tell what kind of food was being offered on the menu. Croissants, crepes, marinades, cheese dips and chalupas are confus- ing to me. And even though I enjoyed good meals at Panera Bread or Olive Garden, when I finished, I wasn’t altogether sure what I had eaten. (I was sure that it was expensive.) But peas and rice are nice! You don’t have to figure it out or struggle with trying to decide what to order.
Our Heavenly Father has promised to supply all our needs.
“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
It’s great too that God knows what we need, how we need and when we need. He doesn’t give us a menu though. He just says we are to ask Him for our daily bread. And when we do, most likely He will “pass the peas.” If there is any comfort in the COVID-19 pandemic, it is that we have had the opportunity to “pass more peas” than we otherwise would have. Peas represent basic, wholesome sustenance centered and served from a platform of family table grace and at a slower pace than eating out and banqueting. Every time we say “pass the peas, please,” we are in effect exercising the spiritual discipline of contentment. God’s grace is amazing, but it’s also convenient! Just like the manna God provided for the Israelites in the wilderness, grace comes from above and settles right at our back door as quietly and unnoticed as the dew that falls during the night. We’d be healthier Christians if we took advantage of what God has provided for us right in the garden of our heart. For sure, what God provides will turn out to be the “soul food” we need to press toward the mark of the high calling of the Master Gardener. In our confidence in Him, we ought to come boldly to His throne of grace and ask Him humbly to “pass the peas, please,” for there is where we’ll find the grace to help in times of need.
“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may ob- tain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:1
Peas Grow In Pods
What does “like peas in a pod” mean? “Peas in a pod” means very similar, bearing a close resemblance. This expression alludes to the seeds contained in a pea pod, which do indeed look very much alike. The idiom “two peas in a pod” means that two people are very much alike; being similar to another person, either in appearance or because both people like doing the same things. Eventhough we are all unique in our physical make-up, character traits and abilities, we are all saved the same way, given the same Spirit, and bought with the same price, the precious blood of Jesus. And because He has given us the mind of Christ as born again Christians, we all do really like doing the same things. Ithas been such a blessing to be able to assemble again in the Lord’s house at SPBC on Sun- day. When we assemble in Je- sus’ name and in the Spirit of worship to express our love for God and for one another there is unity just like peas in a pod. And when the pods shell out, God is glorified and His people are edified.
“We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.” 1 John 3:14
Not only do the children of God like doing the same things like praising God, praying to Him, enjoying His creation and fellowshipping with one another; they also dislike the same things like sin, pride, lust, and disunity. The gift of eternal life is given to God’s elect family for two reasons — first, to know Him in an intimate way, and second to be one in Him and of ourselves. So, all sinners (that means you and me) who have been washed in the blood of the Lamb, no matter the grossness of the sin, nor the time and season redemption was applied, are all dressed in the pure, wrinkle free, righteous robe of Christ Jesus.
“Passing the peas” shows we love one another because God has given us an appetite for His gracious provisions.
Peas Have To Be Picked
Recently, I took an empty five gallon bucket and headed to the garden to pick peas. The reason I did that was because it was time to pick them. And since I had planned, planted and cared for them, I had a greater interest and authority than anyone else to pick them. Picking peas is not easy and alludes to meditation from a posture of bowing. As I picked the peas I thought of how God is the Lord of the harvest in that at the right time, He goes to the garden of life on earth and picks His children to take home to be with Him forever. He knows when it’s “picking time;” the peas nor His people have anything to do with that. It is noteworthy that different varieties of peas have varying maturity dates. Some peas mature in about fifty days, while some will take ninety days or more to get ready for the table. Penny and I buried our son John Emory when he was two years old. Recently I officiated in the funeral service for Sister Laura Mikell who was ninety-seven years old. Both went home to be with the Lord at the Master’s hand; for both it was picking time. A tree can’t really be accurately measured until it has been cut down; can a child of God realize the fullness of Heaven’s glory and a sinless life until they are placed in the bucket of God’s bosom carried to glory? When that happens to our loved ones, we still can visit the garden of precious memories and say, “Pass the peas, please!”