Before you start reading this, I wanted to tell you a little bit about the process that these little stories go through. I get an idea and I play with it and when I get a chance I start working on it as a word document where it stays for a few days until I can complete it. After it's complete I reread it several times and then think of all of the things I could add to it. On this particular story I thought about discussing how we remain in Christ or how to be appealing to a watching world. I feel like God comes up with these and I don't want to add to it. There are some of these stories I don't love, but some of you do. So, this might be one of those. I didn't add anything...actually I deleted some stuff that I thought would make it better...it didn't. Alright, I'll quit blabbing...I pray that this makes it's way to your heart and that God uses it to make you more like Him. Blessings.
I have a really neat play group. We are sort of overachievers I think. We have taken our children to the Fire Station when two were small enough to be “worn,” and one of us was pregnant. We’ve gone to the lake, the local science museum, a handful of plays in the wonderfully restored downtown theatre, and even painted our toenails before Mother’s Day! (I should add that it wasn’t at a salon, can you imagine? It was on my back porch…still impressive) Today was strawberry picking. There is a wonderful “berry plantation” just across the river and we decided that before the season ended, we’d head out. Today was the day.
Now, I mention that we are overachievers not because I think we are incredible (although that’s not far off...LOL ) I mention that because we cram a lot into a day. Between the 3 of us there are 8 children, all but one walks. Actually 5 walk, 2 wander, 1 waits for someone to notice that he has crawled into a mud puddle. So, we get our buckets and head out over to our little pickin’ spot. We gather the kids wanting them to pay attention and be respectful so we don’t have to threaten them in public. LOL! Before you are turned loose, you are given instructions on the proper way to pick a yummy berry. She shows us how to pull the leaves back to reveal the delicious fruit underneath. She shows us a green strawberry that should be left, an almost ripe berry that had a hint of orange, that should also be left, and a ripe berry that can be popped off (there is a method of course) and placed in our bucket. They have a very systematic way of doing things and if I knew how to link things to show you where I went, I totally would. You’ll have to wait. In any event, she caught my attention when she said, “You leave berries on the vine until they are ripe, because they will not ripen once they have been picked.” Really? They must remain on the vine until they are ready. She explained that the reason the grocery berries are so not yummy is because they are picked early and can’t ripen. There is fruit that can ripen once removed, but strawberries aren’t one of them.
That phrase kept repeating in my mind, “They cannot ripen off the vine.” Of course my mind recalled John 15:5, sing it if you know it, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit, apart from me you can do nothing.” I couldn’t help but to think how incredible that was. They must remain on the vine. ME TOO!!! A couple of years ago I studied John 15:5 with some pretty harsh applications. I looked at the word abide and what it meant. A quick trip to studylight.org and here is the Greek: to remain, abide
a. in reference to place
1. to sojourn, tarry
2. not to depart 1a
b. to continue to be present 1a
c. to be held, kept, continually
d. in reference to time
1. to continue to be, not to perish, to last, endure 1b
e. of persons, to survive, live
f. in reference to state or condition
1. to remain as one, not to become another or different
2. to wait for, await one
I don’t normally “do” definitions like that on my little blog, (and it didn’t paste properly, please excuse the weird layout) but it’s necessary to see what that means. What it REALLY means to stay on the vine. I love the last number 1…to remain as one, not to become another or different. Remaining connected to Jesus is everything.
My little Smella (that’s my youngest and she comes by that name HONESTLY) kept eating all of the berries. I mean she had them dripping from everywhere! She would take them ripe or unripe and even those in between. I told the ladies I felt like I should pay them something for what she consumed, but they just laughed, and asked me not to return. I’m kidding! Seriously, though, we didn’t want the unripe berries. First of all, they are the wrong color! Who wants waffles with green strawberries dripping off of them? NOT IT! (That’s what we used to say growing up when we didn’t want to do something…like dishes, sweeping, cleaning vomit…whatever) I want a beautiful red sauce, a sweet berry that makes my mouth come alive. I don’t want an almost ripe berry that tricks me into thinking that it’s going to be a yummy bite…I want the yummy bite! In the same way, my dear friends, I do not want to be the unripe Jesus follower who makes someone’s mouth pucker. I don’t want to trick people either leading them to believe that I am sweet and turn out to be just “alright.” I want to stay so close to the vine, so connected that I ripen beautifully. I want to be the berry in our favorite book The Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear. I don’t want to jump off the vine too early. Do you know what they do with berries that are picked by accident or fall of the vine and rot? They throw them in the middle of the rows to be trampled, they are worthless. Oh, Father, please do not let that happen to me. Pray with me, ladies. Please keep us close to you. So connected that people cannot see where we stop and you start. We want to be women who long to be with you and are pleasing and sweet to those near and dear to us. Do a work in us Father, we recognize that apart from you we can do nothing.
The next time you put a strawberry in your mouth think, “Is this sweet and juicy or hard and bitter?” Which is more appealing?