The frustrated tree

John 15 begins: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.” It continues the metaphor by describing us as branches. We are either connected to the vine and are fruitful (our behavior follows Jesus’ command for us to love others as He loved us) or we wither and are cut from the vine.

In the third sermon from The Power of Same series, Pastor Furtick taught about the impatience and disappointment we sometimes feel when we do not see evidence of fruitfulness in our life. This made me think about the annual cycle for fruit-bearing trees.

We had a grapefruit tree when we lived in Gainesville, FL, so I watched its cycle over several seasons. In the spring, small fragrant blooms appeared (they smelled exactly like Fruit Loops to me). Eventually, small dark green fruit appeared that eventually grew into impossibly large grapefruits. Our spindly little tree’s branches could barely support their weight (this is a great picture of what God will do through us if we simply focus on obedience and get out of the way). After this growing season, though, the fruit disappeared and, by winter, the tree looked dead for all intents and purposes.

I knew this was simply part of the tree’s yearly growth cycle. I knew that the following season the tree trunk would be larger, the branches would spread further, and more fruit would appear. I wonder, however, if the tree was frustrated? Did the tree think that its fruit bearing days were over? Did it feel like its usefulness had been exhausted each winter?

Are you in a time when you do not see fruit on your branches? Maybe God is simply strengthening you for tremendous growth in the next season. On the other hand, maybe you need to let some things go to focus on those activities that “will be fruitful” (watch the sermon titled “This May Take a While”). If you are following Jesus, then you are in a growth cycle whether your current circumstances suggest spring or winter. As John 15:2 tells us, the gardener is continually working on each branch.

…every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.

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About Tony Schmitz

Tony Schmitz received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from Temple University in 1993, his MS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in 1996, and his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in 1999. He is a mechanical engineering professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
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