Fruit in Season

It is a hot Sunday afternoon. My husband and I are having lunch on our covered patio, enjoying the breeze created by a fan whirling above us. The air is sweet like the fresh cherries on our plates, alive with the trickling of our pond and the songs of birds.

The plants around our little patio oasis are blooming and bursting with summer greenery: striped hostas, unfurling elephant ears, bright basil and an abundance of mint. But they all need water. I head over to water the two tomato plants first, picking the first ripe tomatoes of the season.

One tomato plant expands up and around the cage, multiple yellow flowers and green tomatoes of every size on its branches. But the other plant seems to have yielded its first fruit, then stopped growing—not even a new blossom forming.

I have recently turned another year older, and the last thing I want to do is stay stuck in my particular place of maturity like that tomato plant. The second half of my life is already underway, the “summer” of my life quite past. I’ve been preoccupied with thoughts about whether my life is really progressing in spiritual depth and fruitfulness. Deep down, I wonder if my “heyday” has passed, whatever it might have been.

Pondering the tomato plants, I suddenly realize that the Spirit has been consistently speaking to this concern over the last several weeks. As I review key spiritual moments throughout the transition to summertime, the message is clear.

In mid-May, I wrote down what an older gentleman on staff at church said to the congregation: “No matter where you are on your journey, God has something for you ahead.”

Watching the sun rise over the ocean on Memorial Day weekend, Proverbs 4:18 popped into my mind as the sky changed from light pink to brilliant orange: “The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, shining brighter and brighter until midday.”

The process of sanctification, of becoming holy, is never over, the Spirit was saying, but it does mean your life can and will shine brighter and brighter as you give yourself to the process.

One Sunday in early June, a pastor helped us consider the lilies of the field that grow without striving as they are clothed with the life and grace of Christ. “Your season ain’t over!” he said. “If a lily can grow in the desert, He can find you and cause you to flourish in any situation…growing bulbs and lilies more than you can imagine.”

In late June, I read a book called To Fly Again by Gracia Burnham, a survivor of a year-long kidnapping in the jungle that ended with her husband’s death. “Who says the very best for you and me has come and gone?” she asks. “Satan says that…Grace, on the other hand, says: ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him’ (I Corinthians 2:9).”

Grace says, she concludes, The best is yet to come.

* * *

Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;

But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.

He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.

Psalm 1:1-3

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