One weekday evening a few weeks ago over tea my wife came up with a suggestion - “I think we should go strawberry picking on Saturday, Squid would love it”. For those that don’t know Squid is the nickname we give our almost 4 year old. And for those that don’t know me, the thought of fruit picking hasn’t ever really appealed. Rather ignorantly I’ve never seen the benefit of picking your own half squashed, half rotten piece of fruit when there’s punnets of the things in the supermarket 10 minutes away.
So naturally my response during tea was “Yeah sounds like a good idea” and sure enough Saturday came and I was driving into Bells Farm with the 3 of us plus my brother in law. As I occupied myself in the Farm shop (I love a Farm Shop) and the boys went for a pre-picking wee, the wife found someone to point us in the right direction & provide baskets for all the fruit we’d be collecting. Apparently we’d arrived too late in the year for strawberry picking as most of them had gone...not a great start! But there was plenty more varieties of fruit to forage for so off we went.
The boys (the nearly 4 year old and 25 year old) were excited and ran ahead to compete against each other to see who could find the biggest juiciest raspberry.
Half a basketful of raspberries later we encouraged them to head onto something else and to see if what we’d been told earlier about the strawberries was actually right. Truth be told we took it as a bit of a challenge to find as many strawberries as we could. We were on hands and knees rummaging for anything we could find, and sure enough there was actually quite a few! The smell of the strawberry plants was amazing, and you know what, I admit it, it was a really fun couple of hours in that field!
I came away from that farm that morning thinking about parts of the Bible that speak about fruit, 2 passages especially. The first was the parable of the sower, and how seed was sown in various types of ground, some wholly inappropriate for growing plants (like a pathway or amongst rocks) and others in deep fertile soil that over time did cause life to spring forth. And the parable, which is really telling us that we as Individuals are the ground (some of us allow the words of the Bible to land take root in our hearts and minds and to cause something wonderful to grow) and that we can produce fruit too.
“...the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” (Mark 4:20)
Some of those strawberry plants in that field must have had hundreds of pieces of fruit on it at one point. And I guess as we think of ourselves we need to ask, how can we produce fruit? Well the 2nd passage I was thinking about that day gives us an insight I think.
The Apostle Paul, when writing to a group of believers that had begun having petty disagreements, reminds them about the need for love in their lives, especially love for each other and he uses a lovely image for us
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal 5: 22-23)
Here’s the fruit we can all produce, it’s Gods fruit and it can be displayed from us just like those juicy ripe strawberries. We do it by having those qualities mentioned above in our lives, in our character, in the way we conduct ourselves with others. Added to this is the thought that this fruit of the spirit is actually the love and all the other aspects part of that one (think of it like an orange, that’s the whole fruit but it it is then made up of many smaller segments).
So after a day fruit picking and admitting to myself I really rather enjoyed it, I also drove away thinking I needed to be one of those plants in that field and to produce as much fruit as possible in my life. I don’t want God to have to rummage to find it, I want there to be so much it’s evident for all to see.