We are told that all things testify of God. In this case it is pole beans and scripture study. I truly never thought I would put those two things into the same sentence.
This piece is about my experience with picking green beans and how it relates to studying the scriptures. I’ll explain it all as I go.
There are two kinds of green beans, pole and bush. Bush beans only bear once, and they grow on a short little bush. Pole beans are a vine that grows up a fence or on a pole and once they start bearing they just keep bearing until the end of the season. This story is about pole beans. I have only been picking pole beans for a couple of years now, and I am learning some important lessons about what happens if you aren’t on top of your picking every day.
Have you ever tried to put together a puzzle that is only one color? Finding a particular piece of such a puzzle is what picking pole beans is like. The vine is a particular shade of green. The leaves are the same shade, and the beans match the vine and the leaves. Pole beans are sneaky little critters. One day you see the pretty little white flower and the next time you go out to the garden you have beans that are so large that they are almost inedible. You have to not only find them, but pick them between the baby bean stage (1-2 inches in length) and the gargantuan stage (6-8 inches), which sometimes seems to be only about 3 hours. That isn’t true, of course, but that is how it feels.
My wife went out to the garden the other day and picked a lot of veggies from the garden. I didn’t see what she brought in. She asked that I go out and pick a few beans she saw at the top of the trellis that she couldn’t reach, so I headed for the backyard to see what I could find. Once I got up the ladder, I quickly saw the beans in question and picked them. Almost immediately I spotted another couple of beans and picked them as well. I hadn’t gone down the first step of the ladder when I saw some more, then more, then more. By the time I came back into the house I had filled all my pockets and both hands were overflowing with green beans.
I entered the kitchen and proudly put my find on the counter and went to brag to my wife about what I had found, for I had just been out picking the day before, so I was a little embarrassed at how many I had missed, but wanted her to know that I had rectified my mistake. When she came into the kitchen and saw how many beans I had picked, she gasped and commented on her surprise that I was able to find so many more. “More?”, I said. “What do you mean by more?” She pointed to a whole bucket full of beans at the end of the counter that she had just picked an hour before.
That is the lesson of the green bean. To find them all you have to be methodical in your search. They hide in plain sight. It’s not like they are wrapped in anything, they are hanging right there out in the open. But for some reason they are so easy to miss. And once you spot them they are as obvious as the nose on your face. It isn’t enough that you have now spotted the bean, but you start to see all the other beans around the one you spotted. You have to pick fast so the others don’t “disappear” into the green around them again. This brings me to the scriptures.
When I was out picking beans one day it suddenly occurred to me that picking green beans was much like studying the scriptures. Scriptures are the written Word. It is printed right there on the page, so it isn’t like the information there is hiding because it is wrapped up and cloaked by something else. Everything is just hanging in the breeze, so to speak, just like the green beans. Yet for all their plainness and obviousness, we search and search to find that one gem we can pick. And when we find something in the scriptures that helps us understand a principle of the gospel or we find an explanation for a law of the gospel, we feel so pleased at our “discovery.”
The scriptures are the pole bean of the spiritual world. Just as green beans are not all clumped together in one place so that it is super obvious where they are, so too are the scriptural principles scattered throughout all the books of scripture. We have to be looking for them to find them. We need to want to learn something before the information they have to share with us becomes evident. But when they reveal themselves to us, we look at them with fresh eyes and understanding. Now that we see them they seem so obvious. How could we have missed that lesson all this time?
Studying scriptures has some parallels to picking beans as well. Beans usually grow in pairs, one on each side of the stem. So if you see only one bean, chances are very high that if you move a leaf or look a little closer, you will find its companion. If you are lucky you will see the others that also grew along that same branch of flowers. Studying scriptures can reveal multiple truths as well. We may only have spotted one truth or principle, but if we keep looking and trying to understand more about what we just learned, we will find other truths that help expand our knowledge.
Scripture study must include all the Standard Works, for the truths of the gospel are seeded throughout seemingly at random. The scriptures were never meant to be like an encyclopedia or like a search engine where you can just go and look things up by topic and it is all there. The secret about the knowledge of eternity is that everything is connected to other parts of the gospel. Half the fun and adventure of studying the scriptures is finding those connections and how they change our understanding of the core principles we learned a long time ago. Every piece learned has the possibility of expanding our overall perception of the plan of salvation and our knowledge of God exponentially. We just have to keep looking for those connections.
The gift of the Holy Ghost is what opens the eyes of our spiritual understanding. We can’t learn to feel comfortable in the scriptures and about the nature and personality of God without His help. He is there to point us to where we need to look next. And when we are standing right next to a spiritual lesson, but still not seeing the picture, He is there to nudge us in the right direction and help it become self evident to us.
Of the two activities, picking beans and studying the scriptures, the more difficult is studying the scriptures. Picking beans is purely physical. You have to be able to see the bean in order to pick it. But the scriptures are spiritual in nature. To harvest things that are spiritual requires the Holy Ghost. Without inspiration man cannot grasp spiritual things. That goes against the nature of being mortal. But with the Holy Ghost, and a lot of hunting for the things we either need or want to learn about, He can show us bit by bit what we need. Along the way we gather enough bits that the addition of that one last piece suddenly allows us to see the bigger picture. Our mind expands, and our soul enlarges just a little bit. This is where we find our joy in the scriptures.
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