Bearing Fruit

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Today I was making a wonderful new chicken, orzo and fennel soup that requires lemon and dill as the finishing touches. Don’t get all FOOD network on me it was easy peasy. Back to the story, as I finished off the soup with the lemon juice I reflected on the origin of that lemon. Years ago my sister bought me a Meyer lemon tree already growing three baby lemons on the wee little tree. I planted it with ever so much care and when the three ripened I put one literally in the offering plate at church praying for a bumper crop from then on. Silly, I know, but lemons are a big deal to me. I grew up in a farmer’s family and production is paramount. So with that mentality and with great anticipation, each spring I would see the buds and the bees and celebrate what was to come. Each year, five years running, nothing; absolutely nothing. I watered, tended, fertilized, trimmed and seriously was ready by year six to take an ax to the tree and start over. Lost cause! Right? After all I’ve been buying lemons way too long, right?  Disappointment grew by the year. It was a fruit tree, dog gone it, and nothing to prove that was the case except for the greenest leaves you could imagine. Oh, years back I saw and tasted the two remaining lemons but now, zilch, nothing. I expected lemons, not oranges, or plums which incidentally those trees are producing bumper crops on the same plot of land.

I thought of Jesus and the fig tree with all its beautiful leaves and no figs. He cursed it and it withered. I had an ax and I could do the same! Each year I grudgingly gave it “one” more chance with full anticipation it would hand over those yellow beauties. I truly identified with Jesus’ frustration and ultimate judgment over the fig tree and me with my Meyer lemon tree that is seriously negative of lemons. This last year I told my sister I was sadly removing her gift because of its barrenness. She begged me to give it another chance. LOL. Not so LOL. It’s just a tree, right?

Nearly, six years is enough time to measure a tree and its fruit, right? Jesus is God and knew the ultimate production of figs on that tree He cursed. He knew its full or empty potential, I do not. My lesson in this is that I had better not give up so quickly on lemons, or people, or even myself when it takes years to produce. Only God knows the hearts of men, what fruit they will ultimately bear, and the timing of that. Some trees and people tap in early to Jesus and are powerhouses of produce. They share with everyone, ooze Jesus, have “God stories”, and scripture in their hearts. Some are slower yet gain momentum as God infuses life in them. To be perfectly honest, it took some 19 years before I abided in Jesus and I betcha my fruit was puny, if any, to start with! So glad Jesus saw my potential and didn’t curse me but chose instead to bless my life forever. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 The trick is abiding in Jesus and those little blossoms needed to stay abiding on the lemon tree instead of flying off with the first rain or wind. The same is true in my life. If I don’t abide and hang on to the life giving power of Jesus, then I’ll fly off with the many storms in life and sadly there will be no testimony to others of His life-giving power and enduring love. I can only produce when I hang on to Jesus. “This is my command—be strong and courageous!  Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord our God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

I know your dying to know the outcome of my Meyer. Year six, Spring came and 6 massive lemons larger than my hand are my produce. And yes, my lemon was the final garnishing of my soup. What if….. I had given up on it, what if I give up on myself or others? I’ll never see the abiding power of God working.  Oh, Jesus help me hang on to You so I can garnish this world for YOU! “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.” Philippians 2:13

-Mary Maggard