The poor little guys never had a chance. For several weeks, we had tended our broccoli and cauliflower seedlings, planted from seed and lovingly grown under lights in the basement. A couple dozen strong baby plants grew happily there until the spring thaw, when their hardy souls could easily handle the cool early spring temperatures other less capable vegetables could not.
Already I counted the harvest, imagining how many Ziploc quarts I would be stacking in the freezer a few months hence. With this healthy spring crop and then one more in the cooler fall weather (to be seeded in July), we’d be in broccoli Valhalla all year. I could see the brilliant green color of just-blanched heads clearly in my harvest dreams.
Broccoli Dreaming . . .
The dream didn’t last long. One day, to be exact. After carefully plugging those babies in the ground one afternoon, we went out the next morning to see how they had fared.
They were gone. Not a leaf, not a stem, not so much as one tiny green straggling shoot poked out of that desolate ground. My brain could not register what my eyes relayed to it. How could every last plant vanish without a trace?
The responsible party soon showed his unrepentant furry face. Under our shed, an old chicken coop in the backyard, lived one very wily, very hungry woodchuck. He must’ve thought that broccoli-cauliflower smorgasbord worthy of his first meal after a long winter’s nap. Nothing remained of our long work and anticipation. To add insult to injury, he repeated his vegetable orgy in the fall when we tried again, along with the ornamental cabbage we put in the kids’ garden. Clearly, this particular rodent had a fondness for anything in the cabbage family.
When Dreams Get Eaten
The woodchuck’s transgressions remind me of a reality I don’t always like to face. This life devours things we hold dear. Something, or someone, we’ve built our dreams upon may be gone tomorrow. We only think we can control the future. Fact is, we have absolutely no say in what may happen tomorrow.
“A rich man had a fertile farm the produced fine crops. His barns were full to overflowing. ‘I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. And I’ll sit back and say, “eat, drink, and be merry.” But God said to him, ‘you fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get it all?’ Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.” “How do you know what will happen tomorrow? For your life is like a morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, ‘If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that” (Lk 12:16-21; Js 4:14-15).
One passing of the moon was all it took for an entire counted-on harvest to disappear from our yard. But other more serious raids on my security have happened just as rapidly. A few quick months destroyed my lifelong dream to return to small town, country life. One brief morning’s surgery severed my mother for our family. “Overnight” devastation shouldn’t surprise us in this blemished world, but it does, over and over.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” “I AM who I AM, I will be what I will be, I AM the one who always is.” “His faithful love endures forever” (Rev 22:13; Ex 3:14; Ps 136).
How long? Forever. Regardless of any overnight devastation.
I didn’t get to store that broccoli in the freezer. Not should I store up treasures that don’t really matter, won’t last, and can’t be counted on. I dare not fasten my dreams and security to anything, no matter how precious, save God alone. I must learn to hold the broccoli patches of my world lightly, for they come with no guarantee.
But the love and character of God—now that’s a treasure to hold as tightly as ever I held anything. Besides, it doesn’t need a freezer to keep it fresh every morning.