Country life was foreign to us. We had come from Seattle; tall buildings, cement sidewalks, everything from derelicts to business people passing us by, daily.
That first winter on our property, a blizzard came. The snow covered the ground for weeks. When it melted, we realized we lost a few trees, while other branches hung lifeless.
We expected no fruit after such a terrible winter of snow and wind.
But quite the opposite happened.
Fruit flooded our trees that spring like red and green Christmas ornaments, overtaking the sky after that long, cold winter. Apples, pears, and cherries even surprised us, showing up on trees we hadn't even anticipated bearing fruit.
And I think we can be like that while living missionally, judging fruit-bearing potential by how hard our season has been; thinking hard winters destroy potential, when quite the opposite can happen, if we let it.
I got online after our five acres had so much fruit we couldn't pick it all that spring. I learned the harder the winter, often the more abundant the blossoming, come spring.
And although we pruned away the limbs that didn't survive, we found the good limbs produced more than a hundred times as trees that might not have endured such a rough winter.
Maybe today you are stuck in a hard season, experienced deep wounds, a dormant season, or endured a time in ministry where it seems nothing good could come from it...
But friends, the weather is warming. The fruit of what you have been investing in is just about to reveal the truth of your sacrifices and faithfulness, hard work and diligence.
John 15:2 tells us, “Any branch in Me that does not bear fruit [that stops bearing] He cuts away (trims off, takes away)...” Scripture goes on to say, “He cleanses and repeatedly prunes every branch that continues to bear fruit, to make it bear more and richer and more excellent fruit.”
Either way, if we are a true disciple, God is not going to just let us keep living the way we are living, without Him pruning us.
After that hard winter, I learned a lot about fruit trees. I learned that a good pruning is actually a blessing to a tree, and that a tree un-pruned eventually will produce only weak saplings, or possibly no fruit at all.
And yet, somewhere false doctrine has mistakenly taught us that if it appears God has been pruning us, then God must be angry instead of loving, we deserve punishment instead of blessing, we should experience barren-ness instead of fruitfulness.
When I was little my dad would discipline me when I was bad. Every time before, He would tell me, “I am disciplining you because I love you.” At the time it didn't make sense.
Yet, the Bible says over and over again, “God disciplines those He loves.” (Prov 3:12, Heb 12:6, Rev 3:19)
Contrary to some thinking, bearing fruit is not an option. John 15:5 says, “Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit”. How do we determine a follower of Christ? Matthew 7:15-20 says, “we judge them by their fruit.”
Maybe your questioning if you are disciple, a fruit tree that belongs, or even one that has continued to abide in Him after a long season, but seems to see nothing.
Don't get discouraged. John says if we keep His commands, and abide in love and live on in it, we will bear much fruit. (John 15:10)
Spring is almost here. Stay rooted, and don't be surprised if the field's of your life are filled with blossoms you haven't seen yet, come spring.
Though born, raised, and still living only miles from where she grew up, Jen's heart lies in the nations. Jen loves the beautiful tapestry found in the wide diversity of people, different cultures, and all nations. Jen and her husband have been married twenty years, and have parented fifteen kids and counting; twelve foster, one adopted, and two bios. Her multi-racial family reflects her passion for unity, desire for faith without walls, and missional mindset to share both the gospel and the power of redemption to a world desperately needing the hope found in Jesus Christ. Jen and her husband have led in a variety of ministries; including prayer, small groups, children's, and women’s. Jen advocates for the orphan as a board member for the non-profit, A New Song; and loves doing missions work internationally, along with her family. You can find Jen writing about faith, while challenging her readers at her blog, Rich Faith Rising, as well as at tweeting faith-filled messages @Jen_Avellaneda . Jen is also on facebook.
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