Time spent in the majesty of God’s creation always causes a stir in my heart. At our last visit to the orchard, it was no different. The children were munching on the sweet berries and I was picking as fast as I can, attempting to harvest more berries than they could eat out on the field.
This particular branch caught my attention. On it were some black and some red berries and a long thorny stem. At first glance, it did not look any different than the other branches. But then I noticed just how different the berries were.
Though you couldn’t tell by looking at them, these berries had a lot in common. At the root of them all was one seed. Then, I thought of the fact that they also share the same soil, are nurtured in the same exact way. Undeniably, a farmer does not go to each individual fruit to nurture it. If you were to taste them, they would taste completely different with the ripe fruits living a more enjoyable taste in your mouth. In the same way, many of us come from the same soil and are nurtured in the same way. We received the same rain, are fertilized by the same hands and bask in the same sun. Yet, our outcomes are not the same.
Two fruits could not be closer together and experience the same growing conditions more than those who are on the same branch, resting next to one another. This however does not guarantee the same results. As identical as it would be expected for them to be, it remains that that I could observe a difference. Some were dark and ready to be harvested, while others needed more time in the sun, more rain and more care.
Within each of us lies our God-given potential and our abilities. The unripe berry can look with envy to the darkened berry but this would benefit it none. The same is true of us. When our circumstances appear less than optimal, we can futilely look at those who have walked our same paths, seized the same opportunities, and received the same blessings with envy because they ripened first.This is not to say that these other fruits will not eventually ripen.
It is a phenomenon that we cannot explain ourselves. Scripture however enlightens us, as it says, “A person’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand their own way?” (Proverbs 20:24 NIV). We do not hold all of the answers. Life at times points to our weaknesses and the futility of our knowledge. We are not all-knowing, all-powerful and all-controlling. We have limits. We can do everything “right” and end up with unintended results.
The challenge of this process brings us to the need of an all-powerful, all-knowing, Sovereign God. When we find ourselves coming short of the outcomes we desire, we can find rest in the knowledge that God knows exactly where we are on our walk and He has our lives mapped out. Comparing ourselves to others will only leave us deflated or inflated. When it appears as though others are attaining success faster, we must remember that we are not in a race against them. Our journey with God in this life is unique to us. Only God knows when our fruits will ripen. Though in our hearts, we plan our course, the Lord establishes our steps (Proverbs 16:9). That beautiful red berry may reach maturation in the near future but it does not know this. But if it is removed from the branch too soon, that day will never come.
We are unaware of the moment the tide will change for us. We are not the masters of our fates and the captains of our souls. Not one of us can cause ourselves to breathe one more minute. But, with each next breath there is hope that God will remember us and smile upon us with bright sun rays and morning dew. He, in His grace, will cause our talents to burst to new colors and new hopes.
Don’t give up when the process takes long.
Don’t be discouraged when walking with God, for He is faithful and provides rescue at the right time.