Recently, I went to Connecticut for a family party and it was incredible! They had a plot of land and they all lived in close proximity to each other. By close, I mean next door or across the street. The siblings, all with families of their own now, still were close not only in proximity but in relationship to one another too.
This was encouraging to see but the part that really amazed me was how they grew all their own produce. They had blackberries, plums, Asian pears, mulberries, hazelnuts, tomatoes, squash, to name only some of the many plants they tended to on their grounds. That was most inspiring to me, the fact that they planted all these plants and had prospered from their fruit and land.
They had livestock and it impressed me how they lived off of their own crop and the work of their hands.
I got to talk with Bill and Amy, the owners of the one section of the plot of land, and they talked about how their son, Andrew, was the true visionary for their abundance.
Apparently, Andrew saw, in his head, what he wanted to plant and where it would grow best. He took into account how tall each tree or bush would grow and what the perfect way to plant each one of them so the view overlooking the mountains was not lost. He did extensive research on this project and it paid off. He even mapped out where each plant had to be planted because of its projected height.
(Backstory: Andrew is one of the most creative people I have ever crossed path with. He works with leather and will make a life-size replica of something like an elephant head. He “dabbles” in art and is able to put professionals to shame. Anything he puts his mind to becomes a masterpiece and now in addition to his long lists of artistic abilities, he has a green thumb as everything he grows thrives.)
When he first had the idea to plant all of the produce, Andrew was the only one who saw the end result before the seeds had even been buried in the ground. This, however, did not discourage him to give up on the whole endeavor.
The parents relayed to me their skepticism at first, of their son’s most recent project. Andrew was away when some of the trees arrived, Amy recalled, and he told them that they had to go in the ground immediately, so Amy and Bill went out there and planted them despite their ability to grasp their son’s vision. They told me how they were not able to see the goal that their son had seen but waited patiently.
As time went on though, everyone was able to see the progression of the plants and trees as they continued to grow. Suddenly the vision was shared by all and it was all due to one person enduring and persevering despite any and all challenges.
While I was spending time with the family, I got to taste the fruits of their labor, literally. It was all so delicious and naturally sweet. I only saw the final result, I did not get to see the process to get to that point.
This, however, made me think about my own internal growth. I thought how I do not see myself experiencing growth while in that moment of self-expansion. God is the one who sees, like Andrew, what the end result has in store for me but how he differs is that he also sees the journey that we have to face and the victory that awaits us over it. He sees what the climate around me will threaten to do to me and how to best protect me against the elements of life.
(The climate can be those things in life that could launch me forward and they can be the things that could freeze me to the bone and hinder me if I am not sheltered properly.)
The Lord has to make sure that the thorns do not grow around me, stealing all of my nutrients and nourishment. If the weeds do grow around me though, then I have to be so rooted in Christ, that even though I am surrounded by unhealthy growth, I am not affected by it.
Like Bill and Amy, I may not be able to see the end result of what God has planned in my life. I may look at the current state and be unsure how I could possibly be all that I was made to be. I need to remember that like a tree, the seeds in me take time to grow into a big strong foundation. When I look at where I am, I need to remember patience is important but also see how far I have come already as I trust the Lord to take me further, still.
I heard it put this way, “You can rejoice in the outcome but do not live there.”
If I live in the outcome, I would be missing so many lessons that are going to bring me there. I also cannot live there because then I will postpone the joy that the Lord wants me to experience in my current tribulation. To be like Christ, I have to be joyful in the testing, or in this case, as my tree or vine, continues to grow.
I have been equipped to persevere but I need to know that my strength comes from God alone. Even if there are other trees and vines around me, I can only depend on the One True Vine.
In life, others may not see the journey I have traveled so far, to get where I am, but that does not disregard the progress I made so far. I may not see the improvement myself, but a seed takes time to become something great, and my odyssey has to be treated the with the same persistence and patience.
Like me only getting to see the end result of the fruits and vegetables planted, many people may not see how much hard work and diligence that was required of each one of us to get that final outcome.
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
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12
He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 2 Corinthians 9:10