He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.
When I first came to the Lord, like many “young” Christians, I was going through what I thought was one of the darkest times of my life. My first joy at knowing Christ and accepting His great gift overshadowed the hard times I was facing, and I thought I could face anything with Jesus by my side. I was right, of course, but if had I faced right then what I was to face a few years later, I am not so sure my new-found faith wouldn’t have withered and died. I had much growing to do before I was ready to face the difficult times ahead. God knew that, and He gave me time and opportunity to grow.
Fruit trees do not produce fruit year-round, not even in those tropic and near-tropic climates where they may be green year-round. There are seasons for fruitfulness, and in between those times are seasons of rain and sun, and even fire and blessed peace. There are even differences in how much fruit a tree produces from year to year. Any wine producer will tell you it takes many years for a good vine to mature and truly produce good wine year after year.
As the Psalmist wrote, our lives in Christ are like that vine. We will weather storms and drought, but with our roots in the living water, we will always produce our fruit in season. The fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) comes in season, and it comes when needed, not simply when we will it. In the “off-season,” the Lord is allowing us to grow, to be nourished by His Word, and to face trials that will make us stronger and even more “fruitful.”
As Peter reminds us in his Second Epistle, we need to build upon our simple faith so we will be fruitful:
2 Peter 1:5-8
5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.
8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In my own walk with Christ, I had much to learn about Him and about my own calling before I was ready to face the even greater trials that came later. But BECAUSE I grew in knowledge and faith, I was able not only to persevere in the face of those trials but to serve the Lord God even better DESPITE them.
So don’t be discouraged if you are not always patient, if you sometimes slip and are unkind, if your self-control still needs work. We are meant to GROW in Christ, to mature and become more like Him and be more fruitful over time. Yes, leave sin behind because Christ has already paid that price. But after repentance, let us continue to grow in our faith and knowledge of Christ Jesus, so that, in the proper seasons, we will be more fruitful year after year.
Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Your only Son to pay the price for my own sins. Only the Son of the Almighty God could have done such a thing. Teach me, Lord God, to be more like Your Son, and give me the seasons I need to make me more fruitful for Your kingdom in the days ahead. I will gladly accept drought and storm, Blessed Lord, if it means being closer to You. Amen.
– July 9, 2009