“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit.” (Luke 6:43)
I have been in a difficult season of life lately. My struggles of illness have been put aside and I have been doing “just enough” to cope with the chronic pain, infections, and swelling of joints. But my focus has been on being the mom that my son needs.
Last week, as my Christian women writer friends attended our annual conference, I was making Monster Rocks, gluing plastic eyes onto rocks I spray painted. As my son’s friends are on vacations and going to camps, this summer we are going to therapy.
It has put a new spin on the “fruit” I produce for the Lord. Even when ill, I have always had the joy of Rest Ministries being a visible reminder of God’s purpose for my pain. Now, I just feel a bit lost. I know God is at work. I know I am where I am supposed to be. But there is a shortage of harvest.
In the past I thought people would be able to recognize me by my “fruit” as this scripture says. Oh, she wrote that book. She is the one who has that web site. She . . . Whatever! It is vain and yet, don’t we all want to feel as though God is using us? I have always assumed the more people recognized “me” the more I could point them to where I find strength–the Lord’s feet.
But right now my harvest of fruit is very small. Some days I can’t even see it. Would people still see fruit of the Lord in me now–or just a tired, complaining, helpless woman?
After reading this scripture I looked up fruit tress and dormant years online.
“Most of the classic deciduous fruit trees have been bred and selected and bred some more over the past many centuries to produce unnaturally large and abundant fruit. Consequently, most are unable to support the weight of all the fruit that they are capable of producing. This is why it is so important for them to be pruned while dormant through winter.*
Ironically, when a tree is dormant and not producing fruit, this is also the time a tree is pruned! And this describes my season–dormant–and being pruned back. But why?
Because you and I are capable of producing more fruit than we can handle!
I truly believe that illness is one of the ways God gives us the opportunity to produce fruit that can change the lives of those around us. But we also must remember He is God. Our fruit is never a sign of our own strength. God does have a purpose for our pain, but He is gradually building us up so we can be strong enough to hold that fruit He will give us,
The tree website explains, “Regardless of the extent of pruning, the ‘4 Ds,’ which are “‘dead, dying, damaged and diseased’ stems, should be pruned from all deciduous fruit trees.”
I am choosing to believe I am in that dormant season when God is pruning away. In my own life He is cutting off that which is dead, dying, damaged, and diseased in my life. This may be my priorities, certain emotions, sins, attitudes, and complete faith in my own abilities. I feel like that jagged large stick in the ground that remembers being a tree. A tree who remembers offering fruit, and a canopy shade, a place where friends could gather.
But like the fruit tree, I have hope that the season of dormancy will end and my fruit will come again. Yours will too.
Prayer: God, You never commanded us to produce fruit every day, because You allow the droughts, the storms, and the harsh pruning into our life so our fruit will multiple and our strength will grow to hold it all. Remind me that You won’t cut off any valuable stems, but that You are the one pruning and not just watching the shears head in my direction. Amen.
Have you ever felt like your fruit dried up and then the pruning began? How does it feel to know that God has even greater multitudes of fruit, but He is making you stronger so you can bear it better?
About the author:
Lisa Copen is the founder of Rest Ministries and she lives in San Diego with her husband and son. She is gradually learning how to balance motherhood, family, illness, and ministry, but she still knows it will be a lifetime lesson. You can see the books she has written, including, Why Can’t I Make People Understand? at the Rest Ministries shop.
*By Tony Tomeo, Silicon Valley Community Newspapers (12/24/2012)
This is Sara Groves singing “Less Like Scars.” When we go through difficult times in life it can scar us, but when we have Jesus beside us it looks more like “character” (so the lyrics say). She also sings about how we can feel like we are living less in prison and more like in our room. I think you will like it. – Lisa
Below is a 1-minute video with a devotional on pruning by Charles Spurgeon. Excellent!