11 March, 2007

Producing Beautiful Fruit (and Roses!)

For years, I’ve attempted to grow roses. When we moved to our new home in Otter Creek almost four years ago, the house came with seven nice rose bushes. I’ve managed to kill all but three and so far, they’re doing fine! One of these is an American Beauty rose bush that produces the nicest roses. I've tried everything to get the others to do the same - with no success.

This past weekend, I spent time cultivating and fertilizing my rose bushes, getting them ready for another growing season. In the midst of our Lenten Journey, it dawned on me that these roses have helped me understand God’s desire to see us bearing fruit. The fruit of our lives is when we bear the characteristics of God’s person (love, joy, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control – Galatians 5:22-23). This is the fruit that is pleasing to God.

This metaphor – the vine and the branches – helps me to connect my everyday living with the kingdom of heaven and really calls me to examine where the fruit is in my life.

So… where is it? Where in your life is the fruit most amazing?

In 2000, I was in Quito, Ecuador. Ecuador has three primary exports: oil, bananas, and their most recent export? Roses. Seems the the altitude and the equator combine to make an amazing rose growing environment.. We had a chance to visit one of the rose farms while there.

I was absolutely blown away. Row upon row of rose bushes, most with only 1 or 2 stems. But the fruit of those bushes were the most amazing flowers I’ve ever seen. Huge, bulbous, fragrant flowers, most bigger than my fist with every color you could imagine. I stood amazed at the beauty and the sheer volume of these flowers. The fruit was plenteous!

All I could think was, “Can I take some of these home?” The people was so gracious. “Anything you want for $2” was the English translation of their excitement. I thought, for these?! They're worth every penny! As I selected a few to bring home to Dana, the rose farm owner was disappointed. I guess he was hoping for a bigger sale. Then our translator helped me better understand his offer. “It’s $2 a dozen”. Gulp?! Needless to say, I brought home as many roses as I could carry on the plane as a gift for Dana! Four dozen made the trip!

I think God is working the same way in us. He desires to produce magnificent, beautiful fruit in us. Some of us have more or larger flowers. Some of us are fighting fungus (sin) that seeks to stunt our growth. For some of us, it’s pruning time. But we all have a gardener that knows what a good bush looks like and how to get us into shape!

So for your part, little rose bush? Just firmly stick to the branch. Stick to Christ. And soon, you’ll be producing big, beautiful fruit – and unlike a rose bud which withers and fades, this is fruit that will last!

Thanks to author Marty Bullis who inspired this story.

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