Posted by: tucsonjefe | February 8, 2009

Hardening Off

We are about a month away from time to set out pepper plants in the garden.  I have about thirty in my office at home that I have raised from seeds.  The smallest one just developed secondary leaves and will now start rapidly maturing.  These plants have been carefully nurtured and protected.  I carefully selected pods form the best plants.  I dried them in the sun. I have heated the room, used a heating pad to control soil temperature, regulated the light, and even heated the water to avoid shocking the seedlings.  I first resisted the temptation to move the soil away from the sprouts to make it easier for them to spring up, then to remove the seed husks that clung to the first leaves.  They had to do it themselves to develop strength. .Now comes the final stage in getting them ready to survive outdoors: I have to take them outside and leave them out for increasing periods.  They must develop stronger stems to handle the desert wind.  They need to thicken their leaves to slow evaporation. They have to lengthen their root system to be able find water when its scarce. I will have to stand back and watch them wilt a little and be blown a little, maybe even tear a leaf or two.  If I don’t they will never stand alone and bear fruit.  This process is called “hardening off.”


As we grow in the Lord, we sometimes ask all kinds of questions about why some things happen.  Nobody likes difficulties. You know I don’t believe God causes our difficulties.  I do believe He leads us into situations where He knows we will face some. Many times we get ourselves into bad situations through plain old stupidity.  If we are going to be strong enough for real fruitfulness, we have to overcome a few things along the way.  Financial needs that seemed huge in the early days of ministry seem laughable now.  Our roots are deeper.  Things said and done by other people that used to cause me to question my call and keep me awake at night now barely merit an harrumph!  My skin is thicker.  Things that used to distract me from my mission are now only irritating gnats. I don’t bend with the wind so much. God never wastes anything. Every difficult situation, whether of my own making or of His leading, will help me be more effective at the next assignment if I stand, persevere, and overcome. I may not like it, but I can endure it knowing that there is purpose in it.  Every person has to be “hardened off” or they will succumb to the elements of daily life and ministry. 


Scripture Reading: You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.  (2 Timothy 2:1-3 NKJV)


Somebody Said: Every plant knows this: It’s only when you get crap thrown on you that you really start to grow.   Scott Sorrell


Whether I am a parent looking at the struggles of an adolescent, a pastor watching a lamb turn into a sheep, or just me looking in the mirror and wondering why, I can be assured that trouble is transforming when it is overcome.  Undergirded by the Hand of a loving Father, I am getting stronger day by day.  He is allowing me to “harden off.”



Sermon recordings are available on the website




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