“I want more fruit, Lord. I want much fruit.” My prayer ran more or less along the lines of that vague reference to John 15. It was summer, and my parents’ blueberry bushes groaned with fruit. I was jealous. In the Love of Christ, my roots ran as deep as those. Of the Water of Life I drank long and often. Yes, I have fruit, but I’m hungry for more. Where is it?
As is commonly the case with these Hard Questions, I prayed and pondered for a while before receiving an answer. Then somewhere I heard a brief reference to the sower and the seed, my favorite of Christ’s parables.
Some seed fell on hard ground, where it couldn’t take root at all. That’s not me. Some fell on good ground, where it brought forth much fruit. That’s the one I want to be.
The seed is the Word of God. The beautiful Word that I meditate on. The Word that gives me joy.
Some fell among rocks, which kept the roots from going deep. No, I knew my roots went deep.
But there was one other. The one in the thorny ground. One afternoon while I was resting and meditating on the vast ocean of my Savior’s goodness, it came to my mind. Honestly, I had never fully distinguished the rocky soil from the thorny soil, because well, they were just both bad. But now, for the first time, I thought about how the rocks affected the plant at the root. But the thorns, what did they do? They affected the plant at the neck. The thorns choked the Word of God that it would . . . become unfruitful.
As soon as those Words came to me, my eyes flew open. The Lord had shown me something hugely important.
I knew the parable well enough to know the reasons. The cares of this world . . . and the deceitfulness of riches . . . and wasn’t there another one? My fingers ran to read it for myself in Matthew 13. No other words there. . . . over to the parallel account in Mark 4. The lusts of other things. These are what choke the Word of God and cause it to become unfruitful.
My immediate heart reaction to these accusations was self-justification. “I don’t think I’m guilty of this one or that one, Lord.” But the Spirit gently communed with my spirit to lovingly rebuke me. “Yes, I want to allow You to show me the thorns, wherever they may be.” Cares of this world . . . even the seemingly good and important things that pull my eyes away from Christ . . . deceitfulness of riches . . . not just money, but the stuff I feel like I need . . . lusts of other things . . . other things besides material things, which covers just about any possibility of any sin in the book.
And so the Lord worked, bringing me to repentance in a variety of ways, bringing me His sweet forgiveness and restoration and even the Lifting Above that He refers to in both the Old and New Testaments.
One evening I rested in His arms before going to sleep, and the riches, the lusts, the cares swirled around me. Especially the cares. But I somehow felt lifted above, and filled with joy in the love of my Savior.
An incident in Hudson Taylor’s life came to mind, when missionaries with his China Inland Mission were having many troubles . . . and there were problems with the Chinese government . . . and he held a huge stack of letters he needed to answer . . . when the cares of this world pulled at him like hundreds of Lilliputians.
And Hudson Taylor laid his hand on the stack of letters and leaned back and closed his eyes and began . . . singing. His favorite hymn.
Jesus I am resting, resting in the joy of what Thou art. I am finding out the secret of Thy loving heart.
John 15. What did Jesus say was the secret of Much Fruit? If you abide in Me and I abide in you. That’s when you’ll bring forth much fruit. That’s when your fruit will last. That’s when you’ll see amazing answers to prayer. That’s when your joy will be full.
What a mysterious and ineffably beautiful thing it is to abide in Him. Jesus, continue to teach me this glorious truth.