A Lesson in the Corn Patch

“A Lesson in the Corn Patch,” New Era, July 1986, 12

A Lesson in the Corn Patch

When I was growing up and would run into frustrating times, my Dad would always say: “Well, just remember the Book of Mormon says that ‘it came to pass,’ not that it came to stay.”

I found myself in the midst of one of those times recently, wishing that some of my problems would pass and some of my dreams would come true. But neither seemed to be happening. I began to wonder if sometimes things did come to stay. I wondered why some prayers seemed to go unanswered and why some blessings were withheld.

While visiting my parents I found some answers in the corn patch.

It was Saturday and the vegetable garden needed to be irrigated. Since I was home, I volunteered for the assignment.

“Water everything but the corn,” Dad had said as I headed for the ditch with my shovel. I always wondered what Dad had against corn.

“Are you sure it doesn’t need any water?” I asked. He decided to come and check. We walked out to the garden together and looked at the corn, which was about two feet high by then. The leaves were wilting and had begun to droop from the heat.

The last family home evening in May, we usually planted our garden. A frost would come a few days before the end of the month, and then summer weather began. That was the time for planting.

Grandpa’s rusty old potato planter looked like something out of the ’40s—probably because it was. But it still did a good job of putting the seed potatoes in the ground. Someone had stolen the seat off of it, and Dad sat on a pillow draped over the protruding rod while one of my sisters or I drove the tractor.

We usually planted peas, beans, corn, and potatoes, and sometimes squash. Our garden was growing according to the usual schedule this year. Everything had been watered two or three times since it had been planted except for the corn. It was getting close to July, and still Dad hadn’t watered it.

“I guess now it’s time to water it,” Dad said as he inspected the droopy leaves, and then he explained to me why he had waited so long.

“If you water corn when it first starts to grow, it’ll shoot right up. But it won’t develop a root system to support its height, so it won’t be good for much of anything.”

As he left me, I began thinking about what he had said. He was disciplining the corn so it would be well developed and there would be a balance between the roots and the stalk.

I looked at my own life and thought how much I was like the corn. Crying for water before I’d developed my roots.

I remembered a talk Elder Neal A. Maxwell gave at Ricks College. He talked about being “grounded, rooted, and established.” Maybe the Lord was allowing me to go a little while without water so I would become grounded and well rooted in the gospel. Perhaps there were roots of patience that I had not established. I could work on tolerance and love. I thought of many areas of my life where my roots were shallow.

I have learned not to mind so much the dry spells in my life because I know the Master Gardener will send water in His own due time. And when it comes it will be, as Elder Maxwell calls it, the Malachi measure: “there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Mal. 3:10).

Illustrated by Cary Henrie