I’ve never been much of a nature guy. People who choose to spend their vacations braving the elements never made much sense to me. Why on earth would you want to be outside when you could be laying on a nice bed with air conditioning watching your favorite TV show? But, like with most things, the Lord is teaching me:
- My way of thinking isn’t necessarily right.
- He is in everything.
- Even the most obscure things have a way of pointing to him and his glory.
For the past season, the Lord has been revealing himself to me through nature. Let me explain.
I’ve not really spent a lot of time thinking about nature and God. Every time the Bible speaks of such things I tend to glance over it, but I’ve come to realize that I am making a big mistake. There is a reason why God talks about nature so much. From the very beginning, the Lord put man in a garden surrounded by his presence. In that environment was all that they needed, but then sin messed that up. The first sin was committed over the fruit of a tree. You find David comparing the righteous and the wicked to a tree in Psalm 1. Jesus tells us how to build a relationship with himself by pointing us to a vine and branches in John 15. One can find spiritual metaphors in the sun, rain, and all four seasons. In fact, I think you can find the meaning of life in these verses about nature. Matthew 7 and John 15 tell us that one of the main reasons God put us here on earth is to bear fruit. If that is our aim and purpose of life, then how do we bear fruit in our everyday lives?
As a child, I always felt pressure to bear fruit. Galatians 5:22-23 says the fruit of the Holy Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. That is an intimidating list. Doing one of these things is hard enough, but all of them at once? Impossible.
For a long time, I was stuck in a cycle of striving by thinking that I had to produce all of these fruits in order to be right with God. Like a dog chasing his tail, I always got close, but never quite got there.
Here’s how the cycle would go: I’d focus on one of the fruits of the Spirit. I’d try and strive and work really hard to excel in that one area. However, my singular focus on one would mean neglect of the others. Sure, I might be acting full of love, but my self-control would lack. I’d switch over to self-control, and I’d find myself neglecting joy. And so on. Striving. Working. Constantly feeling like I’m not doing enough. Often, I would think to myself “bearing fruit as a Christian is hard work”.
And that’s when the Lord pointed me to nature.
Think about a tree. Have you ever seen a tree striving? Have you ever seen a tree tired, worn out and feeling like they don’t measure up? Going a bit further, have you ever come across a tree that makes multiple kinds of fruit? No. An orange tree produces oranges. Apple trees produce apples. You will never come across a tree that produces apples, oranges, and pears. That’s not how trees work. One tree produces one fruit. Trees are not in a hurry. They don’t strive. They don’t compare. They just exist and depend on the Lord to give them everything they need. The rains come, the sun shines, and magically fruit appears. Sitting in the presence of nature provides everything that a tree needs to flourish. Trees don’t work. Trees just “be”.
That’s how it is in the kingdom of God. You bear fruit by being in the presence of God. You be, and the Holy Spirit does the work. Sitting in the presence of God produces everything we need to flourish as children of God. According to Galatians 5, we were called to be free by walking with the Holy Spirit. If we do that, we will not satisfy the desires of our flesh. If you are led by the Spirit, the law of doing things for God in order to gain acceptance is replaced with the freedom of Sonship.
Who could use more love? What about joy? If you’re anything like me, I could use a lesson or two about how to forgive. Do you want more kindness? What about goodness, does that appeal to you? If faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control is what you want, here’s out to get it.
Be with Jesus. Get to know him on a deeper level.
Be with him and make him the top priority in your daily life. Encounter the person of Jesus Christ, and you will bear fruit. You will become what you behold. Love God and you will find yourself loving others as well.
If you are feeling the pressure to perform for the Lord today, let me give you some comfort. If you feel like you aren’t measuring up or if being a Christian is hard work, allow this good news to permeate your soul today. You need not strive to produce fruit for the Lord. Just like in the garden, being in the presence of God gives you everything you need today. His presence will provide the environment for fruit to come. Rest, freedom, and the guiding of the Holy Spirit come with his presence. Through his presence, he makes known the path of life (Psalm 16:11). It is where you can find fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore. The righteous shall live by faith, so let us “be” today in his presence and have faith that he will take care of the rest. Let us hand over the keys to our life to him and watch the fruit of the Holy Spirit grow while we abide in him.