Lately I feel like I’m drowning.
My life has been consumed with an avalanche.
An avalanche of apricots.
Yup, you read that right. Apricots. Not figurative apricots, mind you. Real live, sweet and juicy apricots are everywhere right now.
A few hundred of them are spread across my dining room table, another hundred grace the kitchen counter and there’s still loads on the tree in the back-yard, just hanging there, turning orange and laughing at me.
And all this AFTER the following:
- My 17 year old has subsisted for the last two weeks on pretty much apricots alone.
- 20 jars of apricot preserves sit proudly on the shelf
- 1 large apricot crumble devoured
- 5 different and distinct types of apricot fruit-leather dried, portioned, packaged, and labeled
- A batch of sorbet chills in the deep freezer
- 5 gallon size Ziplock freezer bags chock full of sliced apricots wait to be canned
- 1 apricot-jalapeno brisket (Yes, I AM getting desperate) was enjoyed by all
- Three friends gifted with heaping bags of fruit
All this fruit has been from just one tree. One.
But what’s really remarkable is last year’s apricot count.
Last year we had, from the very same tree….
Drum roll please!
Da da da da tu tu dah!
That’s right. None. Zip. Nada. Last year this very same tree didn’t produce a single fruit. And you know what? The same is true of the year before. In fact, up until May of this year, I was completely unaware of the fact that, in my very own yard, a giant apricot tree flourished. I knew I had a big, beautiful, green and leafy tree, yes. But as far as I was concerned that particular tree was some fruitless variety.
Have you ever felt fruitless? Have you gone through weeks, months, heck, even years, when you could not see the fruit of the Spirit in your life?
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5: 22-23, NIV
I know I have.
My attempts to love people undermined by selfish ambition. Joy swallowed up in depression. Peace overwhelmed by anxiety. Short-tempered. Irritable. Attracted to sin. Wavering. Harsh. Impulsive.
I’ve had years where I just felt so stuck. No growth. No discernible fruit.
At times, I’ve gone so far as to question my own salvation, because of times I could not see the work of the Holy Spirit in my life.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit…” John 15:1-2a, NIV
I have read those words of Christ’s and, in dark moments, wondered if I am one of those dead branches, destined to be cut off and ultimately, thrown into the fire.
Thankfully, Jesus didn’t stop there.
“…while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.” John 15:2b-3
He prunes fruitful branches. Cuts them back. Shears off previously productive wood. How painful. How seemingly counterproductive.
A pruned branch holds no fruit. Yet.
Gardeners prune because, in the long run, they know the yield will be greater. Unfruitful seasons may be the result of pruning.
So what do we do in the meantime? How do we live well in the fruitless years?
“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:4-5
Remain in Christ. Whatever it takes. Though it may seem pointless. Though it may seem like nothing is changing. Push into Him. Cling to Him. Call on His name. Beg for a harvest. Recognize that, ultimately, with God as the master gardener and Christ as the source, the vine, you cannot help but to eventually bear the Fruit of the Spirit.
The harvest is coming.
And know, much like my once dormant apricot tree, that when the harvest comes, there will be no shortage.
“This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” John 15:8