“He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers..” -Psalm 1: 3
I grew up in the countryside of Tennessee, on the outskirts of Knoxville. We lived on a dozen acres right outside the city limit. One of the fondest memories I have of growing up in the country was having a garden and various fruit trees. I loved seeing the fruits and vegetables (although I didn’t eat those) come in and being shared with everybody. However, I hated the in-between. I remember having to go out and pull weeds and wondering if things were ever going to happen. I remember trying to scare the foxes and rabbits away to try to keep them from eating things, it was fun throwing worms at my sister, but that is just a side note.
I’m older now and as I compare my life then to my life now, it is much the same. I like seeing fruits and veggies in my life, I hate pulling weeds and waiting.
One of the most helpful things I have ever heard was the phrase, “Maturity is a process”. Maturity is much like having a garden. You plant the seeds of maturity, then you have to wait and cultivate an environment for growth. You would look pretty silly going out and yelling at an apple tree telling it to hurry up cause you got places to be, and you would probably get pretty frustrated if you were expecting quick results. You may be tempted to look at other trees and see how they are bigger than yours and think that you are way behind, but the comparison doesn’t help your tree grow either.
In the same way, maturity in our life is a process, and for the most part, a slow one. In Psalm 1:3 we see that the person who is abiding in Christ will bring forth fruit in his season. We love seeing the fruits of our labors, however, it is unnatural to expect fruit all year. Yet despite this, we set our expectations on constant productivity and deem the seasons of rest and internal growth as being “less than”. We compare ourselves to others. A winter set against a spring will loose, yet it is only by the internal growth of winter that the flourishing flowers of spring are made possible. It is only by the tilling of the soil in the fall that the harvest of the summer is made abundant. Comparison will kill our growth and opens the door to competition.
Lord may you open our eyes to see the beauty and sanctity of what we may deem mundane. May you strengthen our hearts in the midst of the internal growth of the winter of our souls and the intense toil of the fall as we prepare our lives for your work. May you strengthen our hands during the harvest and keep us humble as the beauty of the gospel of Christ bears fruit in the spring and summer of our lives.
During this month, take time to stop and enjoy the season. Stop and smell the blossoms, eat the fruits and run through the fields. Spend some time thinking about your life and how you can cultivate an environment of growth. Pray against comparison and give yourself grace and truth where needed.