Rooted in God: Bearing Fruit in Every Season
Do you ever wish for more peace, love, or joy? Perhaps you remember when patience, kindness, and goodness seemed to be in abundant supply. Or, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control flowed easily.
Thinking back to the first seven years of my childhood, there was no thought given to joy, gentleness, or self-control. There was simply childlike freedom. Then, my family moved from a small suburban city in Oklahoma to Houston. It was as if a switch was flipped in my soul. Where was love? Peace, you have to be kidding me. Goodness became a choice. More than likely due, in large part, to my mother's drinking -- something which I have no memory of in Oklahoma. Fast forward years later, and I watch the ebb and flow of the fruit of the Spirit in my life and in those who surround me. Bearing a fruit-filled harvest has its seasons.
In some seasons, we have a bumper crop. Other times, swarms of locusts come trying to steal our fruit. In a different season, damaging hail comes and beats our souls, and our fruit is limited and damaged, or we are in a season of drought when the glare of the sun, the harsh heat, and the lack of water cause us to survive instead of thrive.
Jesus came that we might have life and have it abundantly. Jesus also showed us that while the trials and tribulations of the world exist, fruitfulness should still be apparent. Life is a juxtaposition of abundance and trials. And in this space, we are to produce a harvest.
As our human minds are wont to do, we wish there was no juxtaposition. Life shouldn’t be this hard. The rules and laws of life meant for all of us really shouldn’t apply to me. Dear friend, if the statutes and laws of this world applied to Jesus, the Son of God, they also apply to our delicate sensibilities.
When our roots sink deep into the storehouse of God, we can stand firm in our trials and still produce fruit. Our ability to bear a harvest isn’t dependent on us but on God. While it involves us, it isn’t about us. And that is where the rub comes in. We all think everything is about us. In Ephesians, we find the following:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, the breastplate of righteousness in place, and your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:10-18 (NIV)
Verse 13 shakes up my heart daily as I recite these verses. “Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” While this verse and the armor of God aren't usually thought of when the fruit of the Spirit comes to mind, it should be. We need to be steeped in God and connected to the Vine so that when life's trials and tribulations come our way, we keep our faith and connection to God. Not only that, we have the supply of energy we need to bear fruit and not wither.
It is like countless movies or TV shows we have seen. There is a battle, and one of the main characters is holding their ground, not letting the enemy through. They get bruised, bloodied, and torn, yet they don’t give way. After the battle, the character has the strength to minister to those around him. That is the picture being painted with the armor of God, and that is how our lives should continue to bear the fruit of the Spirit.
In this scenario, the ability to stand after holding back the enemy does not mean the hero runs around full of energy and vitality like a fresh-to-battle soldier. There are seasons where our strength is in overflowing abundance and some seasons where our fruit is sufficient for what is at hand. The catch is there should always be some fruit on the vines.
Some may think that grapevines go through the natural cycle of fruitfulness and no fruit. There have to be times when we have no fruit. I would say “yes” and “no.” It isn’t so black and white; there are shades of grey. Apart from Christ, we are not fruitful. Once we know Christ, at the beginning stages of our faith, the fruit may be produced sporadically. However, there comes a point where fruit always needs to be produced.
Can you think of a time when Jesus didn’t produce fruit? He had fruit while hanging on the cross, not in the same way when feeding the 5,000 nor overturning the money tables in the temple, but he was still a fruit producer. He was so in tune with God that the essence of who Jesus was – a bearer of fruit – could not be changed or taken away. Even when he died, the wake he left behind was one of fruitfulness. That is what we are called to do. In Christ, fruitfulness is a constant, not an occasional occurrence. Even in a storm, our essence should remain that of a fruit bearer.
This makes me think of one of my best friends from years ago, Mary Lynn. She was so in sync with God that she glowed with His presence. Her fruit was always present no matter what life threw her way. She would sway in the storms like a tree but was never uprooted. During and after storms, there was always fruit evident in her life.
When dementia stole her voice and ability to care for herself, her fruit remained evident. She didn’t need words or the ability to do great deeds to be fruitful. Because, for so many years, she walked faithfully with the Lord. God was her essence. And, when dementia stole her away, unlike most dementia patients who are easily agitated and destructive, she was calm, gentle, serene, and smiling. There was still The Light shining in her eyes. And just like a warrior who defends his ground in battle and afterward has some fruit to spare to lift those around him, Mary Lynn had just enough fruit to ease the broken hearts of those who loved her as she kept directing our focus back to God.
May our lives be a testament to the enduring power of God's fruit.
Prayer: Lord, grant us the strength to thrive in every season, knowing that Your grace sustains us.
This is the second in a series of blogs on the fruit of the Spirit in preparation for the release of my 40-day devotional in late fall. Stay tuned for more information. Feel free to follow me on Instagram, Facebook,Twitter, or Pinterest, share posts, and comment as you see fit. Please do so if you have not signed up for my email list. I send out bi-monthly newsletters and behind-the-scenes information.