I’ve never been one to hide my feelings or sugarcoat a stage I’m going through. If I have learned anything through blogging and sharing my life here with you it’s that we’re all in this together. The places where I struggle, you struggle too. The emotions that rise in me, rise in you too.
Lately I’ve been in a place of discontent. Struggle. Opposition. That’s not to say these things are tangible or real. But I feel them. They’re the layer beneath the surface of a very good life. Last week I shared 5 things about obedience that continue to reveal themselves to me as true. Every day I am reminded of them and the role they play in my life. The way I often allow them to make me question myself or my calling, whether that be a circumstance or person who rises against me, or merely the memory of one. How often I allow one situation to write over the dream God has for my life.
About five years ago a friend and I planted some apple trees. We live in a small circle neighborhood and she is directly across the loop from me. It was the perfect situation because apple trees need another apple tree within a half mile to pollinate. Isn’t that funny? I need that too. Shortly after planting our apple trees one died, and in five years, the other never produced fruit. Every year I looked at it and wondered why. We did everything right. The conditions were ideal; the soil was good, the water ample, the sunshine was more than adequate and there were several apple trees within a half mile to pollinate. But still, no fruit. Every spring I checked for life beneath her bark and it was sure: bright green flesh. While my husband and I were looking at her early this spring I noticed a brand new apple tree had sprung from the ground in a new location. We carefully dug it up and replanted it next to the one that continued to grow, despite being barren. And life went on.
Six weeks ago I was walking in my garden when God gifted me a glimpse of His story and the way He works. That day I rounded the corner where my apple tree grows and, very unexpectedly, found it hanging with apples. I called to my husband and kids and we each picked and ate one right there in the garden. That day I posted a photo of our tree on my Instagram account and wrote:
I love how nature speaks in metaphors. We’ve had this tree for five years and this is the first year it has produced fruit This morning it is literally hanging full of apples. Bright, green, crisp and flavorful. It reminds me to be patient. To adopt the rhythm of nature, knowing that some seasons are for planting. Some for pruning. Some simply for faithfulness. And then eventually, fruit.
This morning I went out for a run as I listened to a podcast. Not surprisingly it was about opposition because it’s exactly what I needed. God is cool like that. As I made it back to my driveway I decided I would stop the podcast, and bring Mark Batterson’s book The Circle Maker to life by literally praying circles around our home. We are trying to sell it and it is my ardent prayer that God would send the right family who will love it as much as we have. Who will see not only it’s worth, but want to raise their family in its walls and that they will be as blessed here as we have been. As I began to walk around the house and through the yard my prayers turned to other areas of need as well. Walking, praying, crying out for freedom. Deliverance. Blessing. Endurance. Wisdom. Favor. A whole host of prayers for a community of people I love.
Sure enough my prayers brought me back to our tree, bursting and ready for harvest. Finishing my prayers, I walked to the garden shed and got the biggest bushel basket I have and started picking apples. I could grab the low hanging ones easily and they popped off into my hand without effort. But there were ones higher. Bright green, turning rosy red and well beyond reach. I had nothing to stand on and the branches wouldn’t bend so I was forced to climb. I placed my foot up on one of the branches and hoisted myself into the tree and suddenly it all made sense. Just because there is fruit doesn’t mean our work is done. We still have to climb up and grab hold of it.
Life is hard. It is messy and confusing and sometimes things just don’t make sense here. God never promised it would. He said don’t be surprised if people turn against you. They will. Don’t worry if you’re ridiculed or misunderstood. You will be. Set your hope fully on me. Turn to me and I will be your refuge, your strength and your song. In Galatians 6:9 it says “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Do not give up. You may plant and tend and never see fruit. But some day the harvest will come, and even then the work will not be done. Because that day you will learn that you need to climb to take hold of it. You will have to leave something else behind – like the solid ground upon which you stand – and climb up into a tree believing that the branch won’t break. He’s got you. In the midst of your fear, your failure, your insecurity and your heart bursting with dreams. Let Him do His work around you and in you, so that He can be glorified through you. Don’t give up. The harvest will come, and you will reach up and take it.