I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last. (John 15:16)
These words that Jesus spoke to his disciples really caught my attention the other day. It is strawberry season here in Seattle. Tom and I are relishing the fresh berries I pick each day from the garden. And I have to pick them each day because strawberries only last a few days. They are meant to be savoured and enjoyed in the brief few weeks of the season. Yet we want them to last. Not only do they taste good, but they are nutritional powerhouses containing not only high levels of vitamin C but also the mighty antioxidants anthocyanins, ellagic acid, quercetin and kaempferol, which all have been shown to have protective effects against certain types of cancer.1
What does “fruit that will last” really mean? It occurred to me as I picked my strawberries that they may only have a short life span but they last as long as God intends them to. They last until the next berries – usually the blueberries – are ready for harvest. They give us that spring boost of energy our bodies need, at the time that we need it. Yes we can dry them, freeze them or make preserves which maintain a goodly portion of the nutrients, but they never taste as good or provide as much nutrition as when they are in season.
What is your response?
Visit your local farmers’ market and buy yourself a basket of whatever fruit is in season. Sit and contemplate the basket of fruit. Smell it. Handle it. Eat it slowly, relishing the sweet, fresh flavour of it. From a spiritual perspective what do you think it means to bear fruit that will last? How long do you think your fruit is meant to last – a week, a month, a year? Are you like a strawberry, providing an intense but short lived seasonal burst of flavour, or are you more like an apple, able to be stored naturally without chemicals for several months?
Strawberries herald the beginning of the season with lots of other berries and perishable fruit. We don’t need them to be stored for long periods of time, unlike apples and pears which are harvested in the autumn, at the end of the harvest season. They can be stored as food for the long months of winter. Historically, fruit that could be stored would hopefully last throughout the hungry seasons of winter and early spring when no new fruit was produced.
In a world that picks green and sprays with chemicals to extend the shelf life of everything from strawberries to apples, the significance of fruit that will last is often lost on us. So much of the “fresh” produce in our supermarkets, is not fresh at all. It lasts far beyond its intended life because of the artificial chemicals that have been added. Some of it is injected with sugar and even vitamins to make it taste more “natural”.
I wonder how often we do the same thing with our spiritual fruit. We think that “fruit that will last” means it will go on for ever and so we do all we can to artificially preserve it beyond its natural season.
What is your response?
Now visit your local supermarket and buy a basket of fruit that is not in season. Sit and contemplate your basket of fruit. Handle it, smell it, and eat it slowly. Does it taste the same as you remember it tasting when it was in season?
Sit quietly in the presence of God and think about your spiritual life. What fruit have you borne that you have tried to preserve beyond its natural God ordained season? Is there fruit that has become tasteless and nutritionless because it is out of God’s season for it? What is God asking you to do with this fruit?
Listen to the song below, but instead of “breathe new life in me” substitute: “Breathe new fruit in me”