Each spring I save a large part of my garden space for vine crops—squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, and especially melons. They are my favorites, so I take special care to pick a good location and prepare the soil well. As soon as the weather and the soil are warm enough, the seeds or seedlings go into the ground, and from that point on I check them almost daily—watering, weeding, watching for the first leaves, the first blossoms, the first fruit.

One of the first lessons I learned in gardening is that many of the vine crops will spread for great distances in all directions. What’s more, they are climbers. One year my banana squash plants went up a fence and into my neighbor’s apple trees. That fall there were large, orange squash hanging among the red apples.

Another year, I planted a variety of large pumpkin. The vines grew through the fence and produced some enormous pumpkins in the vacant lot that borders ours. I nearly ruined my back lifting those large fruit over the fence at harvest time.

Vines have interesting qualities. They may travel great distances across the ground. And they may climb fences and trees. But, the length of the vine cannot exceed the ability of the roots to provide water and nutrients. And vines can only grow as high as the objects to which they attach themselves.

Plant a pumpkin in an open field, and with enough water and sun and fertilizer and time it will spread great distances. If it comes to a trash heap, it will climb it but will grow no higher. It may climb a tree stump, or an abandoned car, but it will grow no higher.

In some ways, people are like vines. We cannot grow farther than our roots will allow. We cannot grow higher than the things we attach ourselves to. If our hearts are set on the things of the world, on earthly treasures, our souls become earthbound.

But, if we attach ourselves firmly to the gospel of Jesus Christ, if we are firmly rooted in its doctrines and ordinances, and are warmed by the light of the Spirit and fed by the living water—our upward growth can know no limits and we will bear much fruit.

Illustrated by Ron Peterson