My husband and I started a berry farm in 2012. Actually, it began long before that—first as a dream, then a canvas planted in wheat and finally, bare earth formed into rows by the toil of our endeavors. A berry farm wasn’t something we envisioned for years upon years, but the dream manifested in the five years leading up to our first fruits.
Recently, I read the parable of the barren fig tree in Luke 9:6-9. Sometimes I read parables in the Bible and shake my head in confusion, but that day I read the scripture with clarity and application, particularly the vinedresser’s response to the owner of the fig tree.
“And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure.” (Luke 13:8, ESV)
It made me think of our dear little farm. Like the man in the parable, we waited for three years without yielding fruit. It seemed like the years of hard work might never pay off. There were numerous time I wanted to rip some blueberry varieties out of the ground and start over. It seemed my time and finances were being wasted , not growing one inch. But my patient husband, much like the vinedresser in Luke 9, encouraged us both to wait. Just one more year, and see what happens. He labored over those three rows, weeding and caring for them just like the others. One more year, turned again into, “Just one more year.” Four years later, they bare some of the sweetest fruit in the entire field.
Isn’t that what the Lord does with us? His grace of “one more year” can show up with a second chance at any moment, and with His new mercy each morning.
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23, ESV)
How many times do we share our hearts and desires with God, and wait for years to see the fruit (answers) of those prayers? It may not come in the form we desire, but we can trust God and know that He hears us. (1 John 5:14) Are you willing to be patient along with Him? Trusting His timing? Trusting in His steadfast love that never ceases, for you?
Waiting those three long years, in some ways, seemed like three (or more!) long months of winter. Barren, cold and unfruitful. Much like the vinedresser in Luke 13:8, we pruned and dug the earth, fertilized with manure and provided nutrients. Eventually, with faithful work and patience, came the fruit. Sweet abundance. Miracles in the faithful waiting and abiding in the Lord, the working and patience.
Winter months can seem to last forever, but we can always trust that spring will arrive and bring forth fruit. Spring also can bring the pruning of life, it can be painful. There have been seasons of my life where the pruning seemed to be more than I could take. How about you? In John 15, Jesus reminds us to abide, rest and tarry with Him. He is the vine, we are the branches, our Father is the vinedresser.
For me, some of the richest “fruit” has sprouted from the “manure” of a winter-like season, filled with harsh pruning and an aching heart. How about you?
This spring, let’s choose an attitude of gratefulness towards the pruning as we abide in Him. What would happen if we embraced and gave Him permission to dig around us, pruning the hinderances or diseased parts from our life? Nourishing our minds with the richness of His word? Maybe we would flourish in the Son of spring, and warmth of His steadfast love. What fruit would come if we chose to abide in Him, the Gardener of our soul?