Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Lent 2016: Bearing Fruit

I have to get up in less than four hours to take my mum to have surgery on her eyes. I did it last week. It's an outpatient procedure that takes about half an hour to complete. Cataracts. The doctor will remove the lens of her eye that's been damaged and place an artificial one and in a couple of weeks she'll be back home and needing new glasses because her prescription will be wrong.

But she'll be able to see.

My wife, Rene, has been offered a job in London, England, initially a 1 year post with a view to staying longer. Who knows how long, but it means I have to begin to wrap things up here in Cape Town for now,

Things change. Dead wood of the wounds of the past get pruned out of our lives and discarded. Healthy wood is trimmed to increase crops.

I understand this as I worked for a while in gardening and property maintenance.

My life is a rose-bush. I use roses as an example because they require abundant care to stay strong and bear blossoms of outstanding beauty that brightens up and day (unless you have bad hayfever).

Roses are complex plants. They require more maintenance than many - not all, don't ask about my bonsai - to stay healthy, but when properly nurtured the different varieties - climbing, hybrid tea, floribunda, standard etc provide a beautiful visual and olfactory (smelly) display that even the most die-hard orchid enthusiast can't ignore.

We're roses in God's Garden. Our fruit is our flowers. It draws people to us and they get a whiff of the scent and are drawn in. As we approach we can't help but be amazed by the intricacy and complex nature of the form of the rose flower itself. It has different stages. The early bud - a green bud that looks like almost nothing. The bud then breaks and the petals forming inside that bud begin to show their colour through the green. As the bud opens we get the early bloom, petals tightly held together and what the florist will try to sell as a good example of a rose. As someone who spent 20 years growing roses I promise it's not the best part.

A healthy bud will open into a bloom where the stamen are exposed. This in turn releases the sweet scent that draws us to the flower as the pollen and pheromones are released into the air. This attracts the insects pollinating the flowers. The bloom eventually opens as wide as it can, inviting scent catchers to draw closer and experience the mature scent, sweeter than before, more "confident" in a way, then a gradual decline as the petals fall until it dies back, drawing energy into the main plant ready to make a new green bud.

It's a fascinating process, and one I miss as my current apartment has no garden and my plans have had to change a lot in the last two weeks. I've watched Rene begin to open from a tight green bud into a bloom that will shake the world - at least the parts she touches - in an impossible way. The domino effect means this will be multiplied exponentially.

Our walk is a call to bear fruit:
"If you remain in Me and My words remain in you [that is, if we are vitally united and My message lives in your heart], ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified and honored by this, when you bear much fruit, and prove yourselves to be My [true] disciples." (John 15:7-8 Amplified)
 "Ask whatever you wish" is a big step. It's not saying a Ferrari or a Lear Jet necessarily, although for some ministries it may one day - well, maybe not the Ferrari - we need to understand that we ask in line with God to see things happen.

I don't want a Ferrari. With housing costs in London I would like a medium sized narrow-boat I can live on for a fraction of the price of renting - and I own it after five years. The running costs are a fraction of rates and I can have anywhere on 2000miles of canal network as my home. It's quiet and peaceful and everything a writer could want.

But it doesn't have to mean even that. Just a place that, when people visit me, they can see immediately is a Blessing - fruit from a relationship with God.

I'm waiting for responses to find the cost of producing a magazine for distribution to see if it's viable. Initial quotes have been in the R90k (about $5000/£4000) area for all costs including writers and sales salaries so we don't have to charge. I'm looking for Christian businesses to buy advertising for the first run of 5000 copies to cover the costs to see if it's viable. That magazine will be fruit, and fruit that will endure even after I move to England - the right team can continue to operate it in my absence to the same vision.

So where is the fruit in your life? What buds are waiting to ripen in time, and what is the harvest that's ready to be reaped? It can be anything. Friends asking questions which will lead them to the Kingdom. An investment opportunity that will bring in an income and allow you to have more time to devote to family. An invitation to go and help give out soup to the hungry and cold on the streets.

Any act we do can be fruit. Any vision God gives us, when followed to its conclusion, will bear fruit because God's Word does not return void.

When I first came to Cape Town I was scared to step out. God told me to enquire about a specific building which at that point was empty. He wanted "Jesus Is Lord" painted on the side and for it to be a space where a church could meet and a ministry grow.

I chickened out. Didn't have the nerve to follow through with what I was certain was God. Within a year, another group had taken over the building and painted it as I had envisioned it.

God will make a way if we do nothing. His visions will come to pass - He just gives them to the person He wants to do it first so it will bear fruit.

Unusually for this blog, I'm going to invite you to contact me directly here if you'd like to sponsor the magazine - and only the magazine - and I'll get details of how back to you. If anything more than we need is donated for an initial run then it will be held over for the next issue or to expand the run into other areas, which would be great.

Pray that your fruit will be great and your increase in God's way will be complete.

Glorify God by bearing Much Fruit as Jesus said!

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