The Fruit of the Spirit...a farmer's journey.

Galatians 5:22-23 - "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control." Against such things that is no law."

I used to pick fruit at an orchard.  They had cherries, pears, plums, but mostly apples.  I started when I was 11 picking drops for cidar.  I would get paid by the bin and I loved that the harder I worked the more money I would make...I was a piece-work kinda guy...still am.

I loved the orchard.  From the sound of the pollinating bees in the spring to the sight of the endless rows of manicured trees in the was intoxicating to me.  The cycle of a fruit tree fascinated me.  The way it weathered the below zero weather of Oswego, New York.  The stategy of pruning trees in the winter so that they would bear more fruit.  The touch and go moments of frost in the spring that would keep you up at night.  The first sight of the buds that would burst forth, the flowers that eventually became the fruit.  The thinning of these clusters of little apples to ensure that we would get bigger, tastier apples come harvest time.  Less was more...even though at the time my young heart didn't understand the concept of 'losing to gain'.

But like I said, it wasn't just an apple orchard.  We would pick different varieties of fruit in their season.  Each species was handled differently and I remember our boss training us on how to pick in order to not damage the fruit.  How and where to lay our ladders. How to grab the plum, pear, or prune and twist it to keep the stem in tact.  How to softly place the particular fruit in the bag that hung over our shoulders and across our chest.  How to empty our baskets into the crates or bins so that the exchange was gentle.  I always found every step of the process to be intriguing.

I didn't know much about the various ferilizers and pesticides they would put on the trees at various times throughout the year, but the orchard was like a newborn baby, completely dependent on the care of the husbandman.  Fruit doesn't just come forth without least good takes nurturing.  It takes cultivation and pruning.  It takes management and a watchful eye on the elements.  It really is a dance with God since there are things that only he can do as it relates to the weather conditions, but it is also dire that the farmer and farmhands do what only they can do along the way to give the fruit the best chance of making it to harvest whole and healthy.  I've always been drawn to that dance between God and the gardener.  It feels like all of life likens this metaphor.

So I was raised on a fruit farm.  It wasn't just fruit either.  It was vegatables of every kind.  Corn, tomatoes, acorn squash, pickle cukes, pumpkins, peppers....and so much more.  Vegetation was all over the place...hundreds of acres of plants and trees needing tending.  We would extract weeds and hold up plants tying them to stakes so they could thrive and survive.  We would haul irrigation pipe down halfmile rows to get water on the fields when there was a drought.  We would pluck suckers off tomato plants so all the nourishment would channel itself to the fruit-bearing stalks.  We would pick rock, hoe rows, and remove bugs that would threaten the crop.  I loved caring for the earth.  I knew that if I cared for it, it would care for me.  If I gave it good farming, it would give me good fruit.

So fruit is near and dear to my heart.  It's not just something I like to eat; I know where it comes from and what it takes to get it in the grocery store and into someone's refrigerator.  It doesn't just takes labor.  And the best fruit, the high-grade stuff, takes extra special sensitivity and selectivity.  It's not accidental or's deliberate and thoughtful.

It's no less so with the fruit of the Spirit, so I wanted to take the next 9 blogs to write on each spiritual fruit mentioned in Galatians to see if we can't appreciate what it takes to cultivate each one of these characteristics the way a farmer would nurture select species of fruit.  Each one takes a little different approach in order to see it come to fruition.

I so desire to see the fruit of God's Spirit in my life...but it's a dance between what only God can do and what only I can do.  God's sovereignty and Human responsibility.  It seems we can't get away from Calvinism and Arminianism no matter how hard we try.  Oh, well.


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