A professor at work had given me a cutting from his well established guava tree in exchange for my scrawny dwarf orange that was overdue to be planted in the ground. It had produced only a single edible orange for two years in a row despite a plethora of fragrant blossoms. Clearly to bear more than a singular fruit this budding citrus needed more space than a container on my patio. It was time to transplant it into a sunny plot of earth if it was ever to put down roots and properly mature. It was long past time.
The exchange of orange for guava was happily made. I had the comforting assurance that my little orange tree was going to a good home and would have a bright future in the capable hands of its new, academically graced and agriculturally minded owner. And I had high hopes for the fledgling guava plant as well. Having previously tasted the fruits of this professor’s labor in the form of a perfect guava pie he himself had baked I dreamily envisioned little glass jars of delicious guava preserves and the dainty guava tarts that I would share with others some day in the future. As the juvenile cutting took root and matured it would surely do well in that empty garden corner currently occupied by the wildly overgrown asparagus fern.
Problem is I gave so little thought to any sort of process needed to bring dear baby guava from mere infancy to a full blown fruit laden specimen. Sunshine and adequate watering should do the trick, I said to myself. After transplanting out of a confining, repurposed yogurt container and into a planter of decent size, my new acquisition began to grow, forming larger leaves while its delicate stems became sturdy. I was ecstatic!
And then one fine day a pestilence struck. The tender new growth proved to be quite a scrumptious snack to an unidentified parasitic organism with a serious case of the munchies. There weren’t supposed to be microscopic invaders preying on my young guava!
“Pick up some neem oil,” my professor friend suggested, and so I did. Yay for me. Unfortunately the treatment remained on the garage shelf in its shamefully unused condition. I confess that I did nothing more than purchase the prescribed remedy for no particular reason other than perhaps fading interest in the process. Instead of applying the proven cure I pressure hosed the tiny pests once or twice. I plucked off the affected leaves. But I never actually did what the professor had advised.
The guava plant continued to survive but did not thrive. Any new growth continued to serve as an all-you-can-eat buffet. The experience confirmed the awful truth—I’m an undisciplined gardener.
• • • • •
We’re encouraged in scripture to count the cost before launching into a project. There’s an act of discipleship in considering what it takes to get any sort of undertaking from point A to point B. That includes the growth and productivity we’d like to see in our own lives. Any venture or change of course takes care, commitment, and application of the right methods in order to succeed.
Luke 14:28 speaks about counting the cost of true discipleship and Jesus’ words here are strong for good reason; “which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost . . . ?”
Human nature is such that we easily envision the end result—the benefit we may personally gain while giving much less attention to the process needed to get us there and what cost and level of commitment will be required.
As for me, I imagined the fruit (and beyond) without enough consistent thought or action to ensure a proper harvest. Yes, this was but an eight inch cutting with a bit of future culinary potential—not a permanent structure or anything truly important. Yet there was a simple lesson about failing to follow through with actionable steps when a specific end result was expected. About how putting our focus on the end results without taking the necessary measures can be a set-up for a mild disappointment. Sometimes an even greater one.
Moral of my story? Count the cost. Consistently take the appropriate measures. Listen to the wise who have successfully conquered the pestilences that come with the territory. Continue to take the steps of due diligence and, over time, our more rooted and fruit-bearing selves just might be positioned to offer, “Would you care for a homemade guava tart?”