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When the Time is Right : The Story of Very Old Tomatoes

Is there anything of value in the bottom of a 150-year-old outhouse? Most imaginations wouldn’t believe so! But several years ago, there was an amazing discovery that has proved quite fruitful…

A “privy,” as the outhouse was often called in the 19th century, was used to discard more than, well, the usual things found in those holes in the ground! Things like pottery and old medicine bottles have been discovered, as well as the undigested seeds of different fruits and vegetables. One particular discovery by three Illinois men with expertise in “privy” searches, helping the Sterling-Rock Falls Historical Society with a dig, brought about some delicious tomatoes grown from seeds that spent 150 years in the bottom of an old, forgotten “privy.” With the help of a local horticulturist, the seeds were nurtured before anyone knew what they would sprout. Amazingly, six tomatoes grew from those seeds!

It takes time for seeds to break apart, time in the dark of the earth’s soil. But with patience and proper care, they will bring forth life–“fruit.” This is the way of God in our lives. Seeds are planted when we accept Christ, seeds of good works, of the beginnings of sanctification. But what happens so often? We become impatient with the process, even questioning its existence at times.

The Living Bible tells us in modern language how to respond to the waiting: But these things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They won’t be overdue a single day! (Habakkuk 2:3)

When is the right time? When will the thing we wait and pray for spring forth? Only God knows beforehand, but be patient! It won’t be overdue–not a single day.

Original story: Prime Times monthly magazine, Peoria Journal Star, November 1, 2014

About Lisa

My husband Dan and I have three children and three grandchildren. We live in central Illinois. I am a graduate of The Institute of Children's Literature, a member of faithwriters.com, and a member of SCBWI. My writings have been published at chirstiandevotions.us, in DevotionMagazine, the PrairieWind Newsletter, and here at thebottomline.co.

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  1. This reminds me of the story of the Chinese bamboo tree. It is watered and fertilized for four years and nothing happens. Then in the fifth year it grows 90 feat in six weeks!

  2. This story also demonstrates that seeds can bear fruit from the most unpleasant of circumstances. We all may know someone who feels like their life belongs in the ‘privy,’ it might be a perfect time to plant a seed.

  3. Great point! Thanks for reading!

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