Proverbs 3:11-12 (HCSB)
“Switching the okra” is an old Southern gardening tradition. The idea is that traumatizing the plant makes it produce more, but it helps other plants as well. One woman complained to an older neighbor about a dogwood that wouldn’t bloom. The neighbor grabbed a baseball bat and beat on the trunk of that dogwood several times. The next year the tree bloomed profusely. Now the lady’s husband does the same thing to his apple trees, claiming that is the most important thing he does to help them be more productive.
One expert rosarian advised a younger colleague to beat a yellow rose bush that had never bloomed. She told her to beat it with a broom at night. Why at night? “So the neighbors won’t see you,” she was told. Sure enough, the rose bush was completely covered in blooms the next spring.
Botanists tell us that trees living with no wind resistance tend to grow weaker and weaker. They tell us that the most rapid time of growth for trees is during storms. Southern gardening celebrity Felder Rushing says that beatings trigger the release of a plant hormone called “traumatin” which is similar to adrenalin in humans. Traumatin stimulates new growth and buds. Rushing points out that this is why so many plants bloom out of season immediately following a hurricane.
A pecan orchard owned by my dad’s family in Mobile County, Alabama, had bumper crops in the years after a hurricane or tropical storm came through. Once a pecan tree next to the barn was struck by lightning. The barn burned, but thereafter every year that tree produced more pecans than any of the other trees.
I’ve been switched by God more times than I want to admit, and it was never pleasant. He’s used trials, problems, heartbreak and other storms of adversity to shape me and get me to produce more fruit. There were no bruises anyone could see, but I did smart for a while and hopefully I learned the lessons He was trying to teach me. Over time I learned that God’s discipline, while difficult to bear at times, was the result of His overflowing, never-ending love for me.
That’s what the verse above from Proverbs 3 tells us: “The Lord disciplines the one He loves.” For that reason, when we feel that God is beating up on us, we should not despise His instruction, but know that God is doing something in our lives to make us more fruitful.
And more like Christ.
--Rocky Henriques, www.uticabc.com