Thursday, July 30, 2015

When Life Seems Unfruitful

Everything is far & long gone by… I would like to step out of my heart & go walking beneath the enormous sky. Rainer M. Rilke

Have you ever had one of those days where you felt like a square peg trying to fit in a round hole? She asked, hoping for an answer to quench her thirst or curb her restlessness. It has been a long, long, season of waiting, and standing, and believing. It is a frustrating time as well; it is a time that nothing in my life seems fruitful. I am just here…waiting. I suppose I could fill my time with busyness so that I won’t feel the crush of the wait, but that would not prove fruitful either. Nothing seems fruitful at all; as illustrated in Piper’s Farm which is rich in green leaves and flowers, yet lacking fruit. I am weary of walking through the Farm anticipating fruit; I am disappointed each day. It seems that the Farm’s chronos is suspended in time for a harvest as well. 

The trees did not bloom this year;

There will be no apples this summer…

The apricot tree has forgotten to bloom…
The plumb tree which traditionally boasts of more plums than one knows what to do with, did not survive a hard freeze; most of it had to be pruned…
I could not find a bloom on my Texas Bluebonnets, which I am growing to remind me of God’s promise to me…

So, I ceased looking for fruit, and my expectation of harvest diminished.

They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit (Jer. 17:8 NASB).

When you feel like you are being crushed like a grape; God is getting ready to do something amazing with you. 

We all have experienced times when we feel unfruitful. It is in those times we need to press in diligently to hear God’s voice; set your face as flint... He is desiring to be more intimate with us and to deepen our understanding of who He is.

He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel  (Ps 103:7 NASB)

The Israelites witnessed God’s miracles—His signs and wonders; but they would not climb the mountain; they wanted Moses to be their advocate to God. Moses knew God face-to-face, because he desired to be in the presence of the Lord; he would settle for nothing less than basking in God’s glory.

Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend (Ex. 33:11 NASB).

Moses knew God’s ways, He understood His character. He trusted God because he knew God was trustworthy. When we don’t seek God, we will continue to walk around in a wilderness; questioning God and losing faith in His promises. The purpose of these dry, unfruitful seasons is to cause us to seek God more ardently than ever; we, like Moses, should not settle for less than God’s presence.  

Things are growing slowly, we had a late start to the warm weather. In Colorado, the growing season is all too short, and as August looms on the horizon, ushering in the fall, it is growing shorter by the day. I see green lush leaves and flowers that open and close, as if to tease me.  I worked hard to get this Farm planted, and it may come to naught. This causes me to be anxious for the fruit of my labor.

After a couple of days of sulking in my fruitlessness, I found a raspberry bush in a lower garden that I have neglected; it holds a few red berries. I planted this bush years ago, and honestly forgot about it; my energy focused on the berry bushes growing in my Farm.  

Better than any argument is to rise at dawn and pick dew-wet red berries in a cup. Wendell Berry
It caused me to reflect…do we have gifts or talents that we neglect, focusing our energy elsewhere, only to find the thing we neglected bearing fruit? There are things the Lord wants to see you bear fruit in, but you have forgotten to care for it. This is true for me. Use these dry times to cultivate your gifts and talents; be mindful of what you are neglecting. We must not leave our gifts and talents buried in the sand; driven by fear and afraid of risk. The reason I neglected this raspberry bush is that it is not organic. I bought it years ago before I began growing organic food. This bush I thought not worthy of my attention because it is not packaged the way I want it to be. That is how we miss God…when we don’t like the package or don’t recognize His workings when they manifest. The Pharisees made the same grave error. They knew the Hebrew Scriptures better than anyone. The very One those pages spoke of, they did not recognize when He walked the planet and knocked on their doors. Jesus did not appear how they envisioned, so He was despised and rejected (see Is. 53:3). 

Though it seems dark now, God always reminds us of His faithfulness. As I walked through the Farm a few days later, I began to see signs of life…

A few cucumbers…
And a bloom on my bluebonnets…

I have wasted too much time being disappointed; instead I should practice cultivating a grateful heart. My Farm brings me joy and happiness and it contains much to be thankful for. Thanking God in the midst of the crush is vital to our relationship with Him. I am thankful for the beauty of the pumpkin’s orange flowers—a promise of fruit. I am thankful for all the flowers that hold the promise of fruit, and the large green branches that are being conditioned to bear the coming harvest. The harvest may seem late by my perception, but God’s ways are not our ways (Is. 55:8-9). Part of cultivating a grateful heart is finding joy in the everyday mundane chronos. My small humble container Farm brings me joy and I thank Him for the coming harvest. God's beauty and His goodness is all around me. Be thankful...

Be joyful because it is humanly possible. Wendell Berry

When death seems imminent…God always brings life. He cares enough about me to cause my bluebonnets to bloom, to nudge me toward the mark and to remember that He is faithful that promised (see Heb. 10:23). The promise those flowers represent is still alive, though it seems unfruitful right now, God gently reminds me not to let go, and that He is getting ready to do something really amazing.

A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights. For the director of music. On my stringed instruments. Habakkuk 3:17-19  

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