I grew up in central Texas with huge pecan trees that shaded our house in the summer. When the leaves fell in the fall, they left behind bare branches bearing thousands of pecans.
It was my job to climb to the top-most branches and shake loose a hail storm of pecans that covered the ground. My mother’s pecan pies were sought after at family gatherings.
A persimmon tree grew outside our kitchen window. The tree house I built among its branches became my favorite hiding place where I discovered the magic of books that transported me through time and space. In the fall, the persimmons ripened into delicious reddish-orange fruit. But a bite or two of green ones ruined their taste for life. My mouth still puckers when I think about it.
We had pear trees in the backyard whose branches sagged in summer with the weight of golden fruit. As children, we munched on pears plucked from low-lying limbs, juice dribbling down our chins.
We moved to Minnesota when we were raising our children. I was introduced to Minnesota sweet corn; corn is so sweet that Garrison Keillor wrote a hymn about it. Nothing compares to Minnesota field-ripened sweet corn roasted and slathered with butter. In the fall, we picked strawberries in the fields and plucked honey crisp apples from the trees.
Just as we take pleasure in delicious fruit of summer, God takes pleasure when we bear good fruit in our lives. Like the garden, the field and the orchard, we can live fruitful lives even in an upside down pandemic world.
Jesus said, “Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:16-20).
“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. ... For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart” (Matthew 12:33).
In Galatians, Paul lists the fruits of the Spirit that nourish and sustain us: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:19-23).
Peter wrote, “Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence knowledge, and in your knowledge self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:5-8).