On my daily walks, I’ve been noticing the signs of early autumn beginning to change the look of the landscape. The lush head-high grass along the path that’s home to a swath of multi-colored wildflowers is losing its luster as it becomes tinged with shades of brown. As the season begins to change, there’s now an obvious dryness in places where there had previously been rich abundance. While I notice the changes and wistfully pine for the colorful exuberance of spring I enjoyed a short time ago, I notice a new sort of beauty springing up, unique and vibrant in its own right.
As I walk and talk to the Father, He begins to minister to me about the changing seasons of my own life using the scenery itself as a teaching aid. He pours out His wisdom and deepens my understanding as I consider the True Vine of Messiah, myself as a branch of that Vine and my Abba as the Vinedresser. I feel so loved and cared for when I realize how much time and attention He expends on carefully tending me!
As I look at the new life, the kind made for a new and different season, bursting forth in that field and I consider my own and I can feel my vision being slowly corrected. I remember how often I’ve prayed to simply bear some fruit of the Spirit because as simple as the concept seems, having it manifest in our own daily lives often proves extremely difficult. Knowing how to “look” like an obedient believer and actually “becoming” one are two very different endeavors. For most of my life, I’ve known how to “look.” My earnest desire is to now “become.” I take stock of the places I’ve completely surrendered. I realize it’s only in those places that any fruit has come forth. I then become acutely aware of places I still need to invite my Husbandmen in.
I am encouraged and not overcome when I think of the fruit I’m still lacking, having finally gripped the truth that He’s not waiting for me to try harder, He’s waiting for me to let go. When my heart condition changes to one of total submission and I abandon self-reliance, things are put into proper order. My Master is able to finally lead me when I bow to have the bit placed in my mouth rather than bucking against it. These are truly the only places where I am settled and at peace, the places where He abides.
I think of my tendency to believe that because He’s worked in one way in the past, that He will always do the same. This is incongruent with scripture and Who He is as the Creator. He clearly tells me in Matthew 15:2 that even when I do bear fruit, I will require pruning at times to make way for even more fruit. Things will not always be as they have always been. As the seasons of my life stretch on, I can expect more fruit…and more pruning.
There’s an old proverb (not the biblical kind) that’s says, “The best time to plant a fruit tree was 20 years ago.” This is because it takes time for a tree to bear fruit. In Leviticus 19, the Father instructs the Israelites not to even harvest any of the fruit they’ve planted for the first three years. He says they are to consider it forbidden. The fruit of the fourth year is to be set aside as a holy offering to YHWH. It’s not until the fifth year that He calls the fruit acceptable for consumption and gives them permission to eat.
When it comes to fruit, time lends to maturity and maturity lends to producing something acceptable and pleasing to YHWH. I would venture to say that in regard to our witness and the way we deal with others – the fruit of our walk – these things also lend to our a leaving a much sweeter taste in the mouths of others who might sample it.
There was a time when I struggled to make any connection at all between parts of the Creator’s instruction like those about planting and reaping found in Leviticus 19 and my own life. They seemed such an odd and foreign thing to me. The longer I purpose in my heart to honor Him by walking in His instruction even when I lack understanding, the more He illuminates the applicable nature of it in regard to my daily walk with Him.
Brothers and sisters, we are branches on one of His very Own plantings! We can expect that what He teaches us in His Torah about the care and yield of the harvest applies to directly His care of us as well. We can trust the Dresser of the Vine to which we are attached to supply all our needs, prune us appropriately and bring the increase in His perfect timing. In this, we can all find immense comfort and shalom!
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