Lessons Learned in the Berry Bush
When our kids were small a church member gave us an open invitation to pick berries from their bushes. But, they gave us one warning to heed. Watch out for snakes!
As you can imagine, I wasn’t overly enthused about the idea of taking our kids berry picking anytime soon. What was my take away from that invitation? Blackberry picking equals snakes. In the years since, I have been more than content to enjoy fresh blackberries purchased from a local market – until just recently!
We have a piece of property located a few hours away from our home. On one of our visits, we discovered that we had some beautiful berries growing on a couple of the hillsides. My husband was confident that the berries were edible, but neither of us were completely sure of which kind of berry we had found. One thing we were certain of - they were delicious!
A friend later pointed out to me that we had both raspberry bushes and blackberry vines on the property. I was thrilled! Once she pointed out the differences to me, it became obvious. The raspberries had a larger leaf and a smaller, round berry. The blackberries had a smaller leaf and a more cone-shaped berry. I could hardly wait to see them grow and develop.
I prayed we’d be back in time to harvest these delicious treats, and we were not disappointed! The black raspberries made their debut first, and I was more than ready to fill my containers with hopes of making some yummy freezer jam. But, now the work needed to begin. The thought of snakes crept into my mind. Plus, I had also seen all those nasty thorns on the berry bushes and on the neighboring weeds. It was going to be a prickly experience that was for sure.
Even though the temps were nearing 90 early in the day, I put on a long-sleeved shirt and jeans. Next came the muck boots that came up to my knee. And, finally, the gardening gloves to keep my fingers from a week-long stain. I figured all this armor should help to protect me from the bugs, the thorns and possibly even a snake!
As I climbed up and down the hillsides looking for ripe berries, I was surprised to hear the voice of God speaking into my mind and heart. There seemed to be some similarities in searching for the best fruit, in the bushes and on the vines, to the way we need to search for the good fruit in those we serve and disciple in our churches. And, so the lessons I learned this year in the berry bushes were these -
- Reach carefully, in spite of the thorns.
- Take your time to search out the fruit that is ripe.
- Be patient for tomorrow's harvest.
- Don’t merely look at eye level, take time to look both high and low.
- When you think you’ve found all the ripe fruit, look again.
- Before moving on, stand back and take time to get a new perspective.
This is all still pretty new to me. I have a lot to learn about berries and berry picking, but one other thing I learned in the berry bush is this –
Some of the juiciest berries that I uncovered were hidden under leaves. Maybe the birds didn’t find them before me. Or, maybe the shade of a leaf helps them to grow plumper? Whatever the case, I learned that a little bit of extra effort to search for the best fruit often paid off. And, in the same way, I was reminded that I need to keep pursuing others for the cause of Christ. I must continue to have an eagerness of heart to take the time to encourage others in their faith. It’s time for me to ask God for a new perspective on life and ministry so that I can see the potential fruit He is just waiting for me to discover.
Paul encourages us in Galatians 6:9-10 with this truth - “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” God also tells us in Luke 10:2 that the harvest of souls is plentiful, but the workers - they are few.
Are you one of the few?
May you and I each seek God’s perspective and strength in the weeks ahead so that we can trust Him to produce His fruitful harvest in our midst and in our churches.