“Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing….so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” (Colossians 1:5-6,10
Fruitful lives are gardens bursting out in bloom, blossoming and exploding with vitality, releasing fragrant aromas and bearing succulent fruit for others to gather and enjoy. I have experienced such abundance in others, and I am the better for brushing against them, leaning into them for strength, and recuperating in the shade their loving hearts extend and provide.
I grew up near an aunt of such distinction, whose fertile garden showcased a profusion of parsley and mint beds, mango trees, orchid plants and sugar cane, to only name a few. It seemed to me that the tasty produce from her garden simply symbolized the robust condition of her soul. The Lord had trimmed Aunty’s life with his pruning sheers, allowing her to know adversity and disappointment in the deepest places. And yet, she radiated an awareness of his complete control over the menacing and the momentary. Her faith delved deep into the richness of his all- encompassing love, and any who came close to her vicinity benefitted from the wisdom and counsel she had gleaned from bowing to his will.
A neighbor of mine was hardly fruitful at first glance. Donna came looking for nourishment, her soul skinny with the barrenness of unbelief, and found the Lord exceeded her highest expectations. She flourished in the vinedresser’s care and gravitated toward all he had to offer her as refuge and resource and radiance. When the winds came, blowing against her like a hurricane bent on her destruction, she held on. She grew confident that he would keep every promise as her Savior, regardless if no one else seemed capable of keeping theirs. And he did, Faithful Father that he is. Now she leads a group struggling through divorce, distraught from deceit and disappointment. From her noble heart she extends to them mixtures of grace, mercy, hope; sweetness multiplied and distributed for the fullness of others.
I barely knew Leticia when she first came by and sat on my red, floral couch, spilling out questions, eager for answers that might resolve her search for meaning. We talked for some time, and finally, ready to surrender her heart completely, she welcomed the chance to invite in the Lord. Some people wait a while to figure out how best to share their encounter with Christ. She did not. My friend quickly became a fruit-bearing orchard with roots digging deep into the Word and branches spreading out to draw in all her acquaintances. Her home became lighthouse and service station, hospital ward and waiting room. Intent on sharing the greatest news she had ever heard, she spread the seed on every type of ground. Some sprouted, some shriveled, some flourished. Never mind, she made certain they had the chance to hear it all again. She received Christ on a family room sofa, and in turn used every room of her home and in her heart to add countless others to the family of God.
“As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty” (Matthew 13:23).
Elizabeth A. Mitchell
Photo Credit: Paul Westel