Discouragement, faithfulness, seasons

Tending Apple Trees in December.

“Tending an apple tree in December is discouraging but come May, June and July you’ll be glad you made the investment” -Geoff Waters.

In an ‘instant gratification’ culture faithful investment in something that doesn’t yield tangible results almost immediately is often soon dropped.

Yet spiritual maturity and growth in character and Christ-likeness often feels like tending an apple tree in the winter months, where the painful pruning hurts and its results are not seen straight away. It is often easier to ‘go easy’ on the tree, not do the necessary work, and then in May, June and July reap a small crop, massively under what the tree has the capacity to produce.

I think that where the December pruning has happened in my life (and to be honest I moaned and protested violently at the time) that has been the very place and area God has used to bring glory to him and blessing to other people.

The truth is many of us want to be fruitful for God’s Kingdom, but we also desire comfort and pain-free growth, the question is “which do I desire more?”

The idea of pruning or discipline isn’t something that is fashionable to talk about in some Christian circles as so many Churches seem to want to project this ideal of grinning perfection (which I actually think is really unhelpful) and yet scripture tells us that “God disciplines the ones he loves” and even the fruitful vine is pruned so it will be more fruitful (in other words, you can’t escape being pruned!) -Jn 15.

Yet as I continued to think along this image, I came to a place where I thought -although pruning scares me- the question that matters, is do I trust the gardener?

Do I believe that although it may be December, that May, June and July will one day come?