Journal Columnist Kathy Yoder: The Life of a Tomato – Sioux City Journal

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Through more than 200 years, the Sisters of Charity of New York nursed Civil War casualties, joined civil rights and anti-war demonstrations, cared for orphans, and taught countless children. They’re proud of their history of selfless service. But they can’t ignore their current reality: The…
When I’ve planted tomatoes in the past, I start with plants from a nursery. Someone else plants the seeds in dirt, waters them and tend to them as they begin to grow. I carry them in their temporary housing to my prepared garden, transplanting them into their real home.
It’s like a dance with specific moves. As the roots dip down in the soil, sashaying to find the best nutrients, the plants grow up toward the sun, seeking its all-important light. The rain plays an important part, too. Tomatoes can’t grow without water.
For me, there are three time periods for growing tomatoes. The first is when you plant them in the rich garden soil. As I dig in the ground, my hopes and dreams for my crop are stirred up. I imagine that first tomato taking shape. I can almost see the first blossoms. I remember the unique tomato smell. I think about that first bite of a garden-fresh tomato. Nothing tastes quite as good.
The next step is seeing all this materialize. The vines growing long and thick. The yellow blossoms coming into place. The bees pollinating the blossoms. The tomato growing into its tomato shape. Green at first, eventually it turns orange and ripens to a lovely red.
The final step is harvesting. Picking tomatoes from the garden, especially the first few times in the season, is pure joy. All the work, the waiting, and the watching pays off as you take that first bite. It’s the satisfaction of good work rewarded.
Toward the end of the season, more tomatoes than you can imagine ripen at the same time. You harvest buckets full of tomatoes and you wonder what you’ll do with all of them. Friends and family see you coming with tomatoes in tow and hide. Canning them is a good option. In the midst of winter, chili made with garden tomatoes is not only delicious, it’s a sweet reminder of summer that seems so long ago.
In some ways, our lives are similar to a tomato. God knows us before we are born and He plants His love inside each one of us. We sprout and grow. We don’t grow in a garden patch; we grow in our mother’s womb. This container is only temporary housing. At just the right time, we’re delivered into the world, becoming part of a family. Our growing doesn’t stop here; it’s just beginning.
A good family will nurture us and help us to grow into good, productive adults. Hopefully, families will point their children to the true source of all growth, Jesus Christ. He is more than what the sun is to tomatoes. He’s our light who helps us to grow in the right direction spiritually. “Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, ‘I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life” (John 8:12).
One thing that’s different between people and tomatoes is that when a tomato has a rotten spot, it’s likely that the whole tomato is rotten and has to be thrown away. We have rotten spots because of sin. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
We can think that we’re perfect, but we’re not. The rich young ruler in Mark 10:17-22 asks Jesus how to inherit eternal life. Jesus recites the commandments. The young man says that he’s kept them all since his youth. “Looking at him, Jesus showed love to him and said: ‘One thing you lack: go and sell all that you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me’” (verse 21). Jesus doesn’t ask the rich young ruler to give up his money because it’s a sin to be rich. He asks the young man to give away his money because he loves his money more than he loves God.
We all have sin in our lives, but instead of discarding us like rotten tomatoes, Jesus chose to die on the cross for our rotten sin once and for all. He became our “very lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world,” as John the Baptist describes Jesus in John 1:29.
The good news is that if we believe in Jesus and ask Him to be our Lord and Savior, our sins are forgiven and He gives us new life. We no longer view Jesus as a good man who lived on this earth. We know that He is the Son of God. We are changed. We are transformed. “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
“And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the faith you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness” (Colossians 2:6-7).
I’m thankful that I’m not a tomato. They sprout. They grow. They’re harvested. They’re eaten. They’re done. I’m thankful that I belong to Jesus. I pray that I continue to grow in Him until the day He calls me home to my true home in heaven.
Kathy Yoder is a devotional writer. She may be reached at
The Journal’s Jared McNett shows how to download and browse the new Sioux City Journal app.
Kathy Yoder is a devotional writer. She may be reached at

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