Let me start off by simply saying that I am no farmer. In fact, Viv and I have yet to keep any plant alive longer than a week or two.
There are wonderful, green-thumbed, people out there who understand what it takes to grow something beautiful. I am not one of those people. Instead, I laugh at memes like this on the internet...
HOWEVER, there is something spiritual about the act of gardening that has recently impacted Viv and I's perspective and our journey. Today's world has distanced most of us from the work of gardening. Instead, gardening is something that happens on a massive scale by so few people, that most of us have no clue where our food or flowers even come from. But the tending of life that happens in the garden is something that we can all learn a valuable spiritual lesson from.
We heard this line not too long ago: We eat the fruit of the previous seasons.
While it sounded great on the surface and was a good one-liner for a sermon, it took some digging around in my soul to actually find its true meaning.
The Bible talks a lot about fruit. Fruit as salvation (Matthew 13:23; Mark 4:20; Luke 8:14-15), as the result of evangelism (John 4:35-36), like names (Genesis 38:6, 1 Chronicles 2:43, 2 Samuel 4:2), as places (Joshua 15:32), as decorations and adornments (Exodus 28:33-34, 1 Kings 6:29 ), as important in many biblical laws (Numbers 6:3), used as similes and metaphors (Song of Songs 7:9), as blessings and curses (Deuteronomy 8:8), important in proverbs (Ezekiel 18:2) and more.
No other fruit is mentioned more than the grape throughout the bible. From its many products, to how it is grown, to dozens of other references, the grape is used in a variety of metaphors, parables, and messages in both the new and old testaments. Here are just a handful of verses
Figs are mentioned over 50 times through scripture. Mostly they are associated with times of prosperity and the economic well-being of God's people.
Olives. Pomegranates. Dates. Each has had sermons, commentaries, and countless other resources devoted to them from their presence throughout scripture.
So who cares...the bible talks about fruit. Why does that matter to you and me?
Well, think about the last time you tried to grow a plant (if ever). First, you acquire $140 worth of supplies. Soil, seeds, nutrients, (I'm sure there is more, but let's go with that for now). Next, you plant the seed. The rest we've heard before, we water it, give it some light, pray it stays alive, and then suddenly you see small evidence of growth and in 4-6 weeks you might end up with a fruit that you can eat. I'm actually not positive about the timing of that, but the bottom line is this: You don’t have fruit on Day One.
You have to cultivate a space for the fruit to grow. There is work and patience, and prayer involved. Habits are created as you water and provide sunlight to a patch of dirt...all the while not knowing if anything will actually come from your striving.
But there IS something growing. The entire time, God is at work making that little seed sprout and grow strong and find its way to the surface, eventually providing you with a little 25⍧ fruit. And those same habits you created while watering your patch of dirt are now part of the way that you tend your fruit-bearing plant allowing it to live and thrive.
The fact still remains that we don't get fruit on Day One.
The work happens in one season, and the fruit is eaten in a completely different season. You see We Eat the Fruit of Previous Seasons and previous work we have done.
What does this mean for you? Some of you are in a place where you are FINALLY tasting some fruit from all work you have put in. Maybe you're finally feeling closer to God. Maybe your relationship is finally feeling healthy. Maybe you feel like you finally have something to give to others, or have a few minutes to spare, or are actually on time for something! Whatever it is, take a moment to reflect on some of the work and remember that the fruit you are tasting is a result of that previous season. Sweat, blood, and tears you shed back then have given you some fruit today! And it's worth much more than 25⍧!
Some of you are in the midst of a never-ending workday, toiling in the sun. You'd be happy to see your first green bud break the surface, let alone see fruit. Your relationships are feeling strained, or broken. You're distant from God. You're feeling pulled in a million directions with work and kids and finances. You don't feel at peace, you just feel like you're grinding with no end in sight. If you're here, or even close to here...don’t expect yourself to be perfectly patient, or kind, or giving, or stronger spiritually right now. Start with one simple step.
Gather your supplies and make yourself some soil.
Start with making a good place to plant those seeds and prepare a place for God to work. Maybe it looks like starting a bible reading plan. Or maybe you pick a time of day to spend 10 minutes in prayer with God. Maybe it is actually checking in with your partner, actually making a budget, actually being honest with your parents, or friends. Choosing to take one action to prep the soil for God to work is a huge step in the process of eating the fruit that God has promised for you.
This season marks the kind of fruit that will come.
So what kind of person do you want to be later this year? Do you want to taste something sweet and wonderful and full of life? Then let's put in the work today.
The life you want is out there., you just have to be willing to put in the work today to allow God to grow it.
We had a season of Really Hard Work. Getting laid off. Doubting our calling. Being afraid of what is next. Distancing ourselves from God. Struggling together as a couple. Struggling financially. And the actual hard labor of building a home on wheels when you have never does something like that before. It looked like this, and much worse at times...
Then there is the season of getting to eat some of the fruit that we worked so hard for. Of feeling closer to one another than ever before. Of believing that we are truly living out God's calling for us. Of having more margin than ever before. Of seeing friends and family. Of living in the moment.
Wherever you are today, just know that God is using you. If you would like some prayer, some support, or simply a friend to say hi to, please reach out!
John & Viv