Hope and strength in the middle of the toil

October 14, 2021

By Jeff Becraft

One time a few years ago I was at one of the hardware stores buying some supplies to plant a garden.

I had a couple of bags of cow manure stuff on my cart. As I was standing looking at some other soil products, a guy who was older than me asked me, “Is that stuff any good?”

I looked at hm and said, “I don’t know… I really don’t know what I’m doing. I just like being outside.”

He thought for a moment and then blurted out, “Me, too.” He then snatched several bags for himself and threw them on his cart.

There are all kinds of lessons that can be learned from gardens, but the one today I learned from a friend named John. What John pointed out was that there were three main phases to a garden (and this is true for many areas of life) — the beginning, the harvest (or reward), and… the middle.

In the beginning is the planting. And since it is the beginning, there is a great excitement because it is the start of something new. You have prepared the soil and have very carefully planted each new plant. (You can tell I am not a real gardener because I don’t use seeds). It is an exciting sight to see those young plants, freshly watered, standing up tall and proud in that fresh dirt.

When the time comes, there is great excitement when you get to start harvesting produce from the very plants that you had planted 60 days earlier and bring it in the house and say, “I grew that.”

And then we have the middle. There is no excitement in the middle. This is when the weeds start growing, bugs show up (one year a slew of stink bugs came in on their Harleys, ate a giant zucchini plant down to the ground in a single evening, and drove off), soil has to be tilled, “what… no rain?”… dragging hoses and sprinklers out, another 100 degree day, “why are the leaves turning yellow on that plant right there?”… the beat goes on.

The excitement of the new beginning is gone, the harvest is not there yet, and there you are toiling… in the middle.

It is not just gardens that have a middle… it is any project, any dream, any marriage, any goal.

When we are in the middle of anything, we can look back to the why… why did I plant those plants to start with?  And we can look ahead… to what is going to be produced by our effort. This will give us hope and strength in the middle of the toil.


Jeff Becraft is the Executive Director for Youth Corps and has dedicated much of his life to helping shift the vision of people’s lives.  Youth Corps is a life-changing leadership development experience that inspires high school students to be leaders in the Midlands and beyond. You can connect with Jeff at [email protected].