by Christine Sine
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. Last week, I picked our first strawberries for the season and each day now, I go out hoping that there will be more. Tom and I relish the fresh berries I pick each day from the garden when the season is in full swing.
At the moment, there are only enough strawberries to whet our appetites – just one or two a day, but when the strawberries are in full season in a couple of weeks, I will need to pick them every day because strawberries only last a few days at their best. 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 if you can, 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 soon to come. 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 when there is no new fruit to be harvested. 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 lifespan 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”
For many years Susan and I traveled to Russia (FSU) to train men and women to conduct summer camps with children and youth. I conducted workshops designed to increase their appreciation of God’s creation. I would design activities to help them to use the five senses God has placed in them. So—–during strawberry season here in the Northwest, I dried many pounds of that luscious fruit, sugering them ever so slightly. Then I took them with me to Russia. Picture this! Each person held a dried strawberry between two fingers. First they looked at it, then they smelled it, then rubbed it front and back, then they were told to place it on the top of their tongue, not to chew, or swallow, just to let it rest there. Of course they started to salivate. MMMM good! That is using four senses. However, as they then chewed the berry, in their head they heard the seeds crack between their teeth. Thus———a five sense experience with God’s gift of a strawberry.
That’s great. I am sure they never forgot.
Christine, this reminds me of a chapter in Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer about the gift of wild strawberries. If you haven’t read it, it’s a lovely piece in that book (which was my favorite book of 2019!) Last night Noah brought home fresh peaches from the shop he works at, given to him by his boss–ripe, juicy, and sweet. What a gift for with my yogurt this morning. May we continually bear fresh, tasty fruit as we journey with God!
Thanks for the suggestion Lisa – as you know I am always looking for new books read. And yes – tasty fresh fruit that we savour and enjoy without expecting them to last forever.