Sunday, January 20, 2019

Nancy Hughes: Thinning the melons in my life

“Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward
selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless
things; preserve my life according
to your word.”
Psalm 119:36-37 (NIV)

Years ago I helped my father-in-law plant watermelons…acres of watermelons. Five seeds to a hill . . . hill after hill after hill. Our backs were sore from bending and our hands had blisters from hoeing but before we knew it, tiny plants were shooting up in the mounds of warm soil. Each stem was dark green and healthy and I envisioned watermelons by the thousands, ready to be picked and eaten!

However, my father-in-law made an odd request: “You need to go to each hill and thin it down to just two plants. Pick out the two strongest looking plants and pull up the other ones.” I was dumbfounded! Pull up those healthy plants?

The more plants you have, I reasoned, the more watermelons you will harvest. I just couldn’t do it. I made the decision to pull up only one plant from each hill. I worked long and hard until I looked up and saw my father-in-law watching me with a “She needs a lesson on watermelons” look on his face.

Shaking his head and smiling, he explained to me that there was a good reason to pull up all but two plants in each hill. “I know all the plants look good right now but if you leave every single one in each watermelon hill, they will crowd each other out. You will have several vines but none will be strong and healthy enough to make really good watermelons.”

He continued “They will compete for the moisture, for the sunshine. All your work will be in vain.” So, head bowed, I retraced all my steps and followed his directions exactly as he had instructed me.

In life, there are times when we have several things that “look good” competing for our attention. Maybe it’s leading music at church AND teaching a Sunday school class AND writing for the church paper AND being the head of several community organizations AND…Whew! Do you get the idea?

Those are all good things – absolutely! But we need to be careful as wives and mothers that we do not spread our energy and ourselves too thin. All those things will compete for our time and we will find that we do not do any of them well.

Even worse, those we love – our children and our husbands – will suffer from our lack of time and attention to them because our focus will be on trying to take care of ALL the "watermelon plants” in our lives. We will become pulled in so many directions that we will find ourselves unable to do any one thing well and therefore every area – every “good thing” – will suffer as a result. Do you just feel your stress level increasing with that statement? Me, too.

Can I simply ask you: what is your passion? What do you feel the Lord has planted in your heart? What idea keeps you awake praying in the middle of the night?

That is where your focus should be. If you do not feel pulled toward one particular area, go before the Lord and ask Him to show you what He wants you to focus on in your life with your talent.

Learn to say “no” to some good things as you are trust the Lord to show you His best direction for your life. Learn to thin the melons.

Lord, I desire more than anything to be the servant that you want me to be. Show me the things – the good things – in my life that I can give up in order to see the better things that you have for me to do for you. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

R.A.P. it up . . .


Do you find yourself exhausted and drained at the end of the week because of all the activities you have been involved in the past seven days?

How do you respond to your family when your energy level is low because of your involvement in other things?


List every organization/activity that you are involved in for one month.

Pray about each one and then ask the Lord to show you which one(s) you should cross off the list and which one(s) you should focus on.

Power Verses

Psalm 119:36-37 (NIV) “Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.”

Isaiah 40:31 (NIV) “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Philippians 4:6 (NIV) “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

(For more of Nancy Hughes' writing, check out her blog, Encouragement from the War Room.)

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