Saturday, January 23, 2010

GUEST BLOGGER: Rachel Pitcher

Today's guest blogger is an active member of our local homeschool group. She has been a wife to husband Tony for the past 18 years, is a loving Christian mother of four beautiful children, and has been a great encouragement to me and my family. Please welcome Rachel Pitcher......

It's hard to find good fruit in the supermarket this time of year. Making it even harder yet is the fact that farmers in Florida are experiencing record cold weather that has damaged their crops. Has this been a record-cold year for you? Is your life reflective of a tree bearing fruit or has the cold-snap stunted your growth and left you wondering how long it's repercussions are going to last? People often talk about the seasons of life and say things like, "This too shall pass." There may be some truth and even benefit to that. However, as Christians, we are called to bear fruit regardless of the circumstances and situations we are going through. Like all good gardeners know, effective pruning makes the plant produce more and not less fruit.

As I studied John 15:1-2, 4 during a journaling retreat four years ago, I reflected on what God had to say to me about bearing fruit. I sensed that although my life might not openly show "bad fruit" to others, it wasn't really showing all that much "good fruit" either. I wasn't bearing much of anything outwardly, and inwardly I wasn't growing either. Unfruitful branches can be thought of as those who confess Christ but never bear fruit. They begin in Him but don't genuinely remain in Him and are in danger of being cut away. Even the fruitful branches, those who truly remain in Christ, will be pruned in order to bear MORE fruit for His glory. Who would want an apple tree that only bore beautiful apples for one season and then gave perhaps one or two apples from then on. I don't want my life to reflect growth that looked promising in the beginning or at one time but has now gone dormant. Remembering that there are seasons of life that are harder than others, we continue to hold on to the promises that our God , our gardener, can make MUCH with the little we have to offer. Our job is to stay focused on the SON, the Giver of Life, and offer our fruit up to Him.

I also studied James 1:2-4 which showed me that pruning is painful but profitable. Like the pains of childbirth that result in the jubilation of seeing your newborn for the first time, trials are occasions for joy. As with labor, it's hard to convince yourself that the pain you're going through is a "good thing" or that you'll even survive it. For some it's short-lived, for others it goes on for more than several hours. Yet, at the end, a precious creation from God is revealed. Trials in daily life test our faith and develop in us perseverance and maturity; qualities that will only benefit us. In the midst of them, we aren't sure there's an end or that we can make it. However, we can endure hardships, hanging on to the promise that we are going somewhere through this. It's not aimless or even endless. It's for a reason, for our good, and profitable not only for us but for others as well.

Dear Lord, I often feel like a "fruitcake" instead of a "fruit-bearer". Help me to yield to your pruning and see it for what it is, not punishment but an opportunity to grow and bear fruit for Your glory. You are the Tree of Life and I thank you for shading me with Your love. Amen.

- Rachel

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