In this, our first gardening attempt, my husband and I planted two summer squash plants: A yellow squash plant and a zucchini plant. Interestingly, they didn’t start bearing squash at the same rate. The yellow plant began first, and we are still having trouble keeping up with its abundant produce. We’ve had zucchini cake, zucchini fritters, stuffed zucchini, zucchini salad, zucchini/carrot sandwiches, zucchini pasta, etc., all made with yellow squash instead of zucchini. The actual zucchini plant, however, didn’t seem to be doing anything at all. Oh, it had flowers, and we could see the little squash beginning to grow, but they never seemed to get beyond the size of a short pencil. It was hard to believe that the yellow squash produced such an abundance of large, healthy squash, while the zucchini plant did basically… Nothing! Both plants, after all, were receiving exact same care, they had the exact same amount of sunshine, the same soil, the same water, etc.
It wasn’t until a couple days ago that I discovered the reason…
I was out hunting for hidden weeds under the large zucchini leaves when I found this long, thick, green – something! It was so big that it startled me, but as I brushed aside the leaves and dirt, I found one ginormous zucchini! It was as long as my countertop is wide and as thick as my hand’s breadth. My zucchini plant wasn’t “doing nothing” as I had thought! Rather, instead of dividing its efforts into multiple squash, It was putting all of its effort into this one monster!
Which plant did the right thing?
Well, if the goal was a huge squash, then the zucchini plant did the right thing. But if the goal was multiple smaller squash, then the yellow squash plant gets the medal, hands down…
Just before leaving this Earth, Jesus gave us an important command: “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20 NLT)
I don’t know about you, but I’ve often felt like I’m not necessarily doing everything I possibly can to obey this command. I mean, how many people have I brought to the Lord? I could probably count them on my hands and have fingers left over… I am definitely not the type of witness who brings hundreds to the Lord.
But is this the only type of witness that Jesus needs? I mean, when you bring hundreds to the Lord, how are you able to follow up with them? To disciple them? To ensure that their faith grows and that they get connected with a body of believers? And when I think of the few who have come to know the Lord as a result of my witness, I realize that I’ve done whatever I could to ensure that these develop rock solid faith….
This makes me think of my two squash plants, and I realize that just like there is a place in my garden for both types of producers, there is a place in the church for both types of witnesses. Those who bring those hundreds to the Lord are serving an all important role. But that doesn’t mean that those who put their efforts into a few select people to bring them to the Lord are doing the wrong thing. Just as there is a place for both types of squash plants, there is a place in the church for both types of witnessing!
I have, naturally, picked the gi-normous zucchini. I suspect that had I left it on the vine, it would have continued to grow, at the expense of the others on the plant. I hope that the other “pencil”-sized zucchinis will now begin to grow and develop.
In the same way, it is possible to spend too much of our time on the same new believer. We can play a vitally important role in discipling them, but there will be a time when they no longer need such an intense amount of discipling. If we continue to disciple them when they are okay on their own, could it be that we, too, will be neglecting other baby Christians who could use our help?
Are you a “zucchini” type witness for the Lord? Or a “yellow squash” type? My two summer squash vines have taught me that there is an important place for both… And when the baby Christian I’m discipling matures enough to make it on his/her own, then I need to turn my efforts to bringing others to the Lord as well!
Oh, and if anyone wants to know what to do with a gigantic zucchini, it made lovely “Zucchini” Parmesan! Four big dishes of it…