I have some friends that pick their own strawberries, blueberries, peaches, or apples every year. If you've ever had it, you know that there's nothing like delicious, ripe, juicy, sun-kissed, fresh-picked fruit.
Fruits bring vitamins and minerals, hydration, fiber, and joy to those around them. Much like you and I do when we're following God's plan.
I wonder if God likes fruit as much as humans do? When Jesus talks about fruit in the book of John, He makes it seem like fruit is a top priority for God. Take a look:
It's all about the fruit.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does He prunes so that it bears more fruit." - John 15: 1-2
If this verse is familiar, slow down and take another look. “He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit.” I agree. He has removed many branches from me that did not bear fruit. Too many to list!
Then, there is the part I haven’t been paying much attention to: “so that it bears more fruit.” After pruning, something new grows back.
What does that mean to me? God delivered me from drinking (the pruning process), but it doesn't end there. He took that away so that I could bear more fruit.
Have I? I think so. I continue to speak and write about my addiction. I am helping others find new freedom in life from whatever they were struggling with. I am bearing fruit. And I feel that because I am open to it — open to God — plenty more of the speaking and writing is to come.
Sometimes I get an idea in my head and shoot it down quickly thinking, “I don’t have time for that!” But should I be dismissing that idea so quickly? Perhaps it could be God planting some new seeds. I shouldn't neglect to water them. After all, it is where I could grow.
Speaking of growth, I sometimes catch myself in the mindset that I've grown so much, it must be enough (or close to it). I mean, hello! I quit drinking! I started a group. I wrote a book. Isn't that plenty?
Pruning has a Purpose
This is when I shut down prideful Sherry and ask Him to show me what else I can give Him. Jesus is still pruning my tree so I can bear more fruit. Meaning I might have a few more things to abstain from or offer of myself. When “He takes away every branch in me that doesn’t bear fruit" (vodka and closet drinking does not bear fruit), it is so I can bear more fruit. When I surrendered my drinking to Him, I thought that was it. Pruned = big hole in my life.
I never expected to “bear more fruit.”
By God’s grace, I have though! He has given me more fruit than I could've ever imagined. I thought life would be dull and very unrewarding without alcohol. Instead, it is full. Full of restored relationships that bring me so much joy. Health and wellness to do the things I love. My spiritual life has grown and continues to grow. There are so many more fruits I could list because the list is endless.
The empty spot I thought would never be filled has totally grown with new branches.
Is there something He could be asking you to remove from your life? Could there be seeds He is asking you to water?
Hard questions, I know. But I bet you already know the answers.
Pray about it and talk to God about where He could take you in this exercise. He is, after all, the Almighty Gardener. I have learned that anything I rely on instead of God to get me through the hard stuff is exactly what He wants me to give up. Use that as a guideline.
Now, think about the seeds you should be watering. Are you running from what you're called to do? Time to whirl around and look Him in the eye.
Now that I'm sober, I'm so grateful for the people in my life and the precious moments that I've gotten back. God gave me a second chance at life. Now I think about my daily activities, and say, "I get to..." I get to fall in love with my husband again. I get to spend time with my family. I get to do the things I'm called to do. His plans for me are for my good, so I can trust Him. If you do, I guarantee you will grow and flourish.