I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
Life on the vine is not always an easy place to live.
Certain challenges come with vine living.
Fruit grows in a process through the seasons. Winter, spring, summer, and fall –each brings a different climate for fruit to grow. There is order and purpose—a reason for each season. Winter brings rest as strength is stored for the coming spring of new growth. Spring warms up and new growth begins. Summer is a busy time growing, and fall is a time of abundance…and then comes the harvest.
Personally, I prefer summer and harvest time when it comes to bearing fruit. Those are times when fruit is growing, and you can see it. You can anticipate the harvest, even if you aren’t there yet. For me, spring can be hard in that it takes time for new growth to be visible. Holy-Spirit fed growth takes place in the secret, interior heart; but for a time, there isn’t much to show for it. Frustrating.
Do you ever just want to hurry up and be done? Tired of puny grapes on your vine?
We often wish growth worked like a microwave: Patience: zip/zap… presto…we are patient in one easy lesson. Maybe two. Waiting for fruit to ripen in God’s timing challenges us to abide in faith.
God uses time and seasons to bring things to maturity. You can’t rush the seasons, and you can’t rush God. I have tried it, and it doesn’t work. You also can’t fake growth—I’ve tried that too. Spiritual growth happens faster when you cooperate with what God is working in your heart, but you can’t make Him work faster just because you are tired of waiting.
You Can’t Skip the Process
Here’s another tactic that doesn’t work: you can’t skip a season just because you don’t like it. This makes perfect sense with nature–we get that. But the fruit God is growing in our lives, faith, and character…not so much. God usually chooses the law of gradual growth, and we grow impatient with ourselves…or with others who aren’t growing as fast as we think they should.
Life on my corner of the vine:
As my children grew older, leaving the days of matchbox cars and Barbie dolls behind, I began to see that I brought some crazy thinking into my parenting. Deep inside I felt responsible for their happiness. For the longest time, I didn’t even realize that I had taken a responsibility that is not mine. If they were in a persnickety mood, I would try to cheer them up. It was hard for me to discipline because I knew they would be upset. (I still did, but it hasn’t been my strong suit as a parent). My philosophy was say yes whenever possible, and sometimes that led to unwise decisions.
As the teen season arrived with braces, new styles, and new attitudes, I tended to avoid conflict in order to keep everyone “happy.” I often felt pulled to smooth things over if they butted heads with their dad. That tactic did not go over well with my husband who was trying to teach them a lesson A few years ago, God began to help me understand why I felt so compelled to keep peace in my family. One day he showed me that there was a big difference between keeping a false peace (placating, permitting, avoiding, hiding) and making peace (working through conflict to achieve resolution). To help me grow mature fruit in this area, He graciously provided the reinforcing wisdom of a dear friend gifted in counseling.
Lessons in handling conflict have been fruit of abiding in Christ and experiencing His transforming truth. As I was learning all these things–the learning was under the surface and slowly summer growth came as I began to catch myself red-handed in placating. More spiritual growth came and I began to recognize and change my thinking–it’s okay if they don’t like this. This child has got to learn to work this out. That is when fruit began to be visible in the form of change. As my thinking changed, my actions began to change.
I began to stay out of “discussions” between teens and their dad, letting them work it out. I began to say no more often when it was needed. And though I still hate to say no and I am still crazy-tense when there is conflict, I recognize that conflict has a valid place if handled well. To be honest, I am still waiting for the full harvest on this particular character fruit–but there is glory in the process.
Are you waiting for fruit to grow in your life? Maybe you are feeling a little weary or frustrated with the growing process. If so, be encouraged. Don’t give up. Hang on to the vine a let God do his work in you. God brings the growth and the harvest is his specialty.
Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.–Galatians 6:9