Thursday, March 17, 2016

From blossom to nourishment.


In nature, there is always something beautiful before the fruit becomes evident and useful. Usually there is a blossom of some kind. Strawberries have tiny white flowers with yellow centers, blackberries are similar; peaches have the most lovely pink blossoms.

However, just because the tree/vines begin to  flower doesn't mean that the fruit is going to make it from farm to table. There is still a lot of work and enduring that has to happen before the fruit is ready to be shared. The winter season may have been mild, but that does not mean that spring will do the same. One night with a hard freeze has the potential to end the growing season. Each year, this particular tree has hundreds of blossoms-but we have yet to have a good crop from this tree. The tree also seems to bud out early, and lacks the hardiness to make it through the cold days that still loom ahead.

When I look back over my own life, just like our peach tree, I feel that I have struggled through the hard seasons. In my 20's and 30's, my faith and belief in the power of God was strong—but when my circumstances held twists that I did not anticipate, nor did I understand—I lacked the strength to bear only small amounts of fruit. And then there were some brutal seasons-seasons where I didn't know if I would be able to stand, let alone have anything to offer... Until one spring, I looked up. I determined to choose my faith and belief in Christ, over the circumstances. This choice didn't cause the season to change, but it gave God room to begin to change me.

It hurt, and it was rough, but there was a new freedom that started to rise up in me. One that I thought had been lost forever. Each day, as I woke up, and intentionally looked beyond my circumstances, by the grace of God, I started to come back to life.

Life is a crazy thing. "To live is Christ and to die is gain." - Philippians 1:21 (NIV) I think our human hearts naturally see the word "die" and begin to question what that is going to cost. What we can't see is the process God wants to take us through so that we are brave and strong enough to endure the seasons. We can not "get" what it is to be "grafted in"(John 15) until we experience the joy of being firmly united to Christ.

We are always going to live with circumstances. The externals of life will sometimes be good and/or hard. The good can become as much of a distraction as the difficult—sometimes even more so. Where is our attention? Where is my attention? This is why it is so important to die to self. When we decide that our external circumstances - all of them - aren't what we value, we are free to live beyond the natural human experience. We get to experience life through the power of Christ. "For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." Life no longer is just about me and my immediate people. My life—our lives—begins to bear fruit, fruit that moves from our small plot of influence, to tables of families and individuals all over the world.

Blooms are nice and all, but nothing beats the taste and nourishment of fresh fruit. Especially when you are a part of the producing process. 

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