Galatians 5:22-23 (The Message Translation)
But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard- things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way.
Last spring, my mom was in town visiting while my husband Cameron was gone for work. She and my kids were playing in the back yard when Norah, my 4-year-old, came running in the house. “MOM! Come quick! We need to show you something! We have a WATERMELON growing in our backyard!!” Her joy and excitement filled every corner of the house while I slipped on my shoes and headed outside. My mom and my 2-year-old son, Graham, were bent over, staring down at something growing smack dab in the middle of our backyard.
Sure enough, there was a plant there. It looked somewhat vine-like and definitely didn’t look like grass or any weed that I’d ever seen in my backyard. The four of us decided that it needed protection so Cameron wouldn’t mow it down, so we found some fencing and blocked it off. It was quite the little production- all this work to “protect” our new little plant.
Well, the days went by, and Norah and Graham checked on their “watermelon” religiously. Much to Cameron’s annoyance, he diligently mowed around the 2’x2’ square in the middle of our backyard. After a while, I mostly forgot about it, but every now and then, I’d go see how it was doing. The funny thing is, it wasn’t really doing anything. It was just this little vine. No flowers, no fruit. A big green leaf dangled from it, and overall it appeared healthy, but it wasn’t producing anything. (This may have had to do with my children watering it every chance they could, but who knows.)
About eight weeks later, we were deep into summertime when Norah once again came yelling into the house, “MOM! There’s something on it!!” We all rushed out to see. There was a bud. A small bud on the vine. “Yes!” We all thought. “I guess this thing is going to produce a little fruit after all.” We couldn’t wait to see what it would be. The checks progressed even more quickly – reports coming in from Norah and Graham every day- sometimes hourly. It was a real trick to convince a two-year-old not to pick it. But finally, the day came. Norah called us all outside once more. We thought maybe we would be looking down on a small fruit starting to form, perhaps a vegetable even, but do you know what we got? A big, bright, yellow flower.
That’s it. A flower. I don’t know what kind, those of you with more herbology experience would probably know instantly. To me, it was a huge disappointment. I knew that flower wouldn’t be anything more than a flower. It wasn’t going to turn into a big watermelon for us all to enjoy. No vegetables would come from it for us to put in our summertime salads. It was a big, worthless flower. As my face fell, I looked down at my kids. They couldn’t have been happier. “Can you believe it, mom?! Look how beautiful it is! I’m so glad we didn’t let daddy mow it down! It’s so pretty!” Those were the words from my babies. And my, isn’t that the lesson?
So many times we pray for things, let’s call them fruit, that we are hoping to get from God. Maybe we need more peace or self-control. Perhaps, like me, you might often pray for patience. You pray and you pray for God to help you and then every day when you wake up, nothing. You feel like the vine with no fruit. Not even a flower. Or maybe the fruit that’s forming on your vine isn’t quite what you asked for.
What I’m learning is that the fruit God gives me the most is perspective. I’m praying for patience, and he gave me toddlers who challenge that every day. I’m praying for peace, and he gives me friends to talk to. Sometimes the lessons we learn and the fruit we bear are more from the journey and the opportunities, rather than waking up to a new personality or an entire shift in our way of thinking.
Here’s what I know. I would’ve loved to have a watermelon growing in my backyard last summer. It would’ve been fun and made the whole process we went through feel a little bit more “worth it,.” But my kids were just as happy with a bright yellow flower (that was gone in 2 days) than they were with anything else. I pray that when God is teaching me to wait on his answers, I will trust Him to provide me with the fruit I need. I long to be patient and willing to accept what he gives. Whether or not that matches my expectations.
Dear Jesus, Let us be satisfied in the fruit you bestow upon us. Let us not be hurried or impatient in learning the lessons you teach. Give us the attitudes of children, pleased with all the little ways you provide for us. Amen.
Jessie Andry is mom to Norah (5) and Graham (3), and she and her husband Cameron have attended Commonway since 2007. She and Cam are from southern Indiana but have called Muncie home since their college days at Ball State. Jessie is an English teacher and Instructional Coach at Northside Middle School in Muncie and loves laughing with her family, eating good food with friends, and spending time with her small group.
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