Most men I know want their lives to produce something of value and use for themselves, their family/loved one, and even their community. I’m no different. Jesus calls us to “bear fruit” as a result of being in relationship with him. In my literal mind I see big, juicy fruits on a tree or vine that weigh the branches down.
Recently however, I noticed that my fruit has looked a bit dry and sparse. My life for the passed while has been a constant flurry of good work and accomplishment…and still my “fruit” seems smaller and less abundant than it should.
So I finally inquired from the vine dresser (that is Jesus) about my issue. To my shame and encouragement, I was led to Hebrew 6:7-8. It says,
“Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. 8 But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.”
When I read this I was immediately drawn to the phrase, “land that drinks in the rain often falling…” You see I wasn’t/hadn’t been drinking near enough “water” that Jesus is constantly “raining” or offering. I also saw the “land” in the verse as myself. And my “land” was becoming too dry. The thing about dry land… it’s hard. The dryer, the harder; the harder, the more cracked; the more cracked, the more it dries; and dry hard ground sheds rain rather than soaking it in!
What’s left? Two dangerous things: 1) the vital ground covering (previous season’s vegetation) over the land dries out and blows away; and 2) land devoid of water starving fruit trees needing to bear fruit. The end result? Sparse, smaller than should be, fruit. And little hope within me, the “land”, to change the current outcome.
As a matter of fact, the situation does get a bit worse if continued to be left unattended. The dry uncovered grown will soak in bits of water now and then from the “rain” of going to church and doing other religious things…and the seeds sown that begin to grow are…yep, thorns and thistles (vs. 8). I’ve found, that when my life (i.e. land) is dry, I’m more prickly and sharp. I can hurt others more easily. And so I begin to manage my crop of garbage to minimize the damage instead of fixing the core issue of dryness. Eventually, I look around at my mess and think, “What in the hell…?”
And the good news? Things can change. I can be changed. We, as men, can be changed because we are much like soil. We’re tough. We’re resilient; we’re fully of good raw elements; we can be tilled (which is sometimes painful), watered (which can feel a little overwhelming), covered, fertilized and returned to a state that is “useful to those for whom it is farmed…” As I reflect on how God has wired men, we are never too far gone to be redeemed and reclaimed to be made useful for something greater than ourselves.
I want that “heavy fruit” hanging from trees that are planted in my ground. I may not have that goal realized this week or next month. But I’ve started drinking God’s rain in again daily…and as I drink, the more I can hold. The more I hold, the better I can support the good crops. So I am busy raising my glass to the Living Water, Jesus, and asking him to make my “cup runneth over”.