With cooler weather finally upon us here in the southern part of the United States, I decided that it was time to go out to my neglected garden to start getting it ready for winter. I located the shovel, found the hand clippers, grabbed my heavy duty gloves and, with dogs at my heels, I headed out across the back yard. Based on the abundance of dead vines that greeted me as I approached the edge of our vegetable patch, I estimated that I’d easily end up staying out there several hours pulling up the plant remains, coiling up hoses and rolling up the fencing until next season.
But as I walked down the rows where the remnants of tomato vines were barely hanging on, I was surprised by what I found. Tomatoes! Perfectly formed, bright red tomatoes! And not just one or two! By the time I’d climbed in and through the curled leaves and withered vines, I discovered I had 37 beauties along with a bunch of green ones that were yet to ripen. I would never have expected that at this time of year, a bunch of shriveled neglected plants in such poor condition would have produced anything! But instead of spending my afternoon winterizing, I left my plants in place and returned to the house with my surprise harvest!
You know, sometimes I think we look at our own lives and make the same wrong assessment that I made about this year’s tomato vines. We dwell on our flaws or the damage from long seasons of failure and, as a result, decide all too quickly that nothing of value can be produced by such a life.
However, the Bible reminds us that even broken lives can become abundantly fruitful when they are touched by God. Just take a quick look at the genealogy of Jesus recorded in Matthew 1.
Abraham feared for his life and concealed the truth. (Gen. 12 & 20)
Isaac blatantly lied. (Gen. 26)
Jacob deceived his brother and stole his birthright & blessing. (Gen 25 & 27)
Tamar committed incest. (Gen 38)
Perez was Tamar’s illegitimate son. (Gen 38:27-30)
Rahab was a pagan and a prostitute. (Jos. 2)
Ruth was a widow and an outcast. (Ruth 1)
David committed adultery, planned a murder & directed a government cover-up. (2 Sam. 11 & 12)
You get the idea.
One might think that such a group would be too inappropriate or unworthy to be in the lineage of the King of Kings… and should rather be cast aside due to their failures and flaws. But upon further reflection, is it possible that their flaws are exactly the point?
God isn’t looking for perfect people who measure up to some outward standard of holiness before they are worthy be used by Him to produce spiritual fruit. Instead, He, at times, seems to deliberately choose those who are broken, but willing and surrendered, to do amazing and even miraculous things through them.
So if you look at the condition of your life and fruit seems doubtful, be assured that God will not give up on you. If you are his child through Christ, He has “set you apart” for His purpose, which is “bearing fruit in every good work.” (Col. 1:10) You may not see any yield developing immediately, but simply trust Him and steadily move forward in confidence and faith. It’s likely that the harvest He will produce through your faithfulness just may surprise you.