I had a friend who recently congratulated me on becoming an “adult,” referring to my getting married and having our first child. My response was mildly defensive, thanking her for the congrats while assuring her that being a so-called, “adult” was not nearly as boring as the idea conveyed. Parts of me have learned to be content in their child-like skin- a process most reject until it’s too late. We’ve learned to forfeit guileless youth to apprehend the very thing we all too soon realize we welcomed too fast. I think that’s one of the many reasons why we have parents. They remind us that we are children. Perpetually children. I used to hate it- wanting to be an individual, independent and on my own without them. God is teaching me the humility required to be childlike and to embrace naivety (at least in some sense) and this week while visiting my parents I enjoyed being a kid again.
In celebration of Jairus 4 month birthday and as a final shebang before we left to go back down to Hudson we fulfilled a childhood dream of mine. I have always loved the idea of u-pick fruit. Sounds silly I know, but when I was little it was so mysterious to me. I always wanted to go and pick something, anything. In North Carolina U-Pick farms are the family weekend activity. So away we went with our baskets and bags to Justus Farm ready to pick as many apples as our little wagon could hold. I’ll admit it- I acted a little like a child. I ran up and down the apple rows picking to my hearts content without thinking about the cost of a bushel or a peck or about what the heck a bushel or a peck even is. I took a bit of every type of apple those people grew and spit out the ones I didn’t like. I paid no attention to the “map” and put my head in the apple photo op. sign and made funny faces at the camera. I was like a kid in an apple orchard- er…a candy store.
Acting like a child often opens up the door for the Father to speak. When I let go of managing my life and begin to enjoy what God places in front of me my ears are opened. I embrace imperfections and place more trust in the Father’s ability to fix the broken things, rather than my own. There in that orchard the Father started to speak to his child’s heart. I saw a tree weighed down with red apples, so much so that the branches were breaking. I’m not typically a fan of red apples but after one bite of these suckers I filled my basket; they were the best apples in the orchard. As I made my way around the tree the fruit was so abundant and each apple was so perfect that I couldn’t decide which one to pick! When our basket was full the tree looked just as full as it did when we started. I looked at that tree and the Lord reminded me, “This is what your are supposed to look like- your fruit is to be this abundant and this desirable- so that when you are picked out you still are full- so full that your branches are breaking.”
The fruits of the Spirit-love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faith and self –control- are to fill our branches in abundance. Jesus knew that those who would be hearing this message would understand what a fruitful tree looked like- He knew that His hearers were those who lived off of the fruit of their trees, whose wellbeing depended on the amount of fruit each tree yielded. The meaning was not lost in the metaphor. Our own well being depends on our bearing these fruits- our relationship with others, our response to temptations and trials, to enemies, to the Word of God; even greater than these, our relationship with God depends on if we are abiding in the Vine, Jesus Christ, and bearing the Fruit of the Spirit. Without it, we die. “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away…if anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers.” John 15
If we are His children we will bear fruit. We might be skimpy at times, bearing only enough fruit to get us through the day, but the goal is to bear fruit that we might be picked to the glory of God and used bless those around us. The to be pruned to bear more.This word “pruned” not only means to cut off or purge- but to cleanse and purify. When we abide, we bear fruit, and we are cleansed. Like the tree which cannot will itself to make apples, so we, without the true Vine, cannot bear true fruit. It is through the rigorous and rewarding process of bearing and pruning that we mirror His image in the way He intended. We must know Christ before we can be like Him.
Like Father like Child.