By Kathy Carlton Willis –
I love imagining myself in a scene from The Secret Garden. The very idea of escaping to a peaceful area of God’s creation through nature’s maze excites me to the core! One of the hidden benefits of our Kentucky home was discovering we owned the woods behind our fenced backyard. My husband Russ cleared the brush to create various paths. One thing he didn’t clear out was the wild blackberry brambles. Partly because those brambles are prickly, but partly because we anticipated the fruit of the vine. During the entire process we eagerly watched the blackberries mature and ripen. First we saw the blossoms, then the fruit appeared and finally the mature fruit was ready to be picked.
I noticed something in the maturation process. Blackberries don’t all mature at the same rate. Some berries ripen slower than others. Some of the fruit is smaller than others. Worst of all, some fruit never ripens, but dies on the vine before it ever matures into a plump juicy flavorful berry.
We evaluated all the variables and came to some conclusions. The berries in the sun ripened quicker and produced a better fruit. The berries choked by other weeds and plants dried up rather than becoming luscious mature fruit. And berries in the shade eventually ripened with smaller fruit, depending on the amount of rain.
When we consider Christian growth by using the lessons of the blackberry patch, we can understand our own ripening process better. We mature, based on just the right circumstances occurring at the appropriate time in the process. We need the Son to mature into the best fruit, as designed by the Creator. The water of the Word rains down just the right amount of moisture needed so we can become succulent to Jesus. Even in partial darkness (focus on self), with some Son the fruit will grow, but at a much slower rate, and often with an inferior finished product. Sadly, other Christians allow the cares of life to choke out their spiritual growth, much like the weeds overcame some of our wild berries by wrapping around the brambles and cutting the berries off from nourishment.
I desire to grow into the best fruit. Not for reasons of pride, but because I want my Creator to be well pleased. By allowing the Son to shine fully into my life, ignoring my shady self-desire and avoiding the choking cares of the world, I’m determined to ripen into fruit pleasing to the Taster. May He savor me and be glorified by my growth.