When was the last time you went to a U-Pick farm? Maybe it was recently to get your hands on a colorful pumpkin. Maybe it was last summer to pick out the very best peach, strawberry, or cherry you could find. If you have never gone, I think you should.
For me, getting out into a field and picking my own fruit is one of my favorite summer activities. Luckily, I am blessed to live in an area ABUNDANT with a wide variety of crops each year.
The funny thing about U-Pick is that you FEEL like you have a great role to play in the fruit you bring home. When you bite into that sun-warmed strawberry or perfectly-juicy cherry, it feels like you are “eating the fruit of your labor” (pun intended). When, really, your labor of pulling fruit off of the branch is a minuscule step in the production of that fruit. Even though that is YOUR pumpkin that YOU cut from the vine, you can’t really take the credit for its beauty or fruit.
The farmer is the one who has really produced that fruit. The farmer owns the field. The farmer planted the seeds. The farmer irrigated it and fertilized it and kept bugs away from it. The farmer pruned it. The farmer patiently watched it grow. And the farmer knew when the fruit was ready to be harvested. The farmer should really be the one to get the credit for the fruit you were able to pick.
What a fitting picture it is then, when Jesus likens God to a farmer. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser” (John 15:1). God is the one who owns the field. He plants the seeds. He gives water and food and keeps his harvest from being destroyed by evil. He prunes the branches. He patiently watches the plants grow. And he knows when the fruit is ready.
What role do Jesus’ followers have in this scene? Jesus says very clearly, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). It’s kind of funny to think about people bearing fruit, and we can make all kinds of guesses as to what a “fruitful life” looks like. However, we learn from another place in the Bible that the “fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).
Sometimes, we can be fooled in our lives to believe that the good “fruit” we produce is by our own labor. We discipline ourselves to be self-controlled, and we pat ourselves on the back when we say “no” to that second brownie. We ask Alexa to play calming music before bedtime, and we feel like we have really done well to produce some peace in our homes. But this misses the mark.
Followers of Jesus know the secret of the U-Pick. They know that the farmer is really the one who does the work; the harvesters, from no merit of their own, are the ones who get to delight in seeing the fruit of the harvest first-hand. Our Father is really the one who produces fruit in our lives. It is through him that we enjoy love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. He invites us into this process through his mercy; he invites us to remain in Jesus and abide in his words. And through this abiding, we get to see, feel and touch the amazing, abundant fruit that he freely offers. It’s amazing!
If you head to a pumpkin patch in the coming days, be thankful for the good fruit that the farmer’s hard work has left in that field.
And don’t forget to say a little prayer of thanksgiving for the good fruit the Father desires to produce in your life through Jesus.