Friday, October 18, 2013

Dried Fruit

The Fall season is here, and instead of colored leaves in Florida, the produce section is showing the signs of autumn. Pumpkins, nuts and dried fruits are more numerous than the pineapples and watermelons.

I had some dried apricots the other day and really enjoyed their concentrated flavor. I was amazed that an apricot could be condensed down into such a tasty morsel. Cooks like to use dried fruit because they store well--dried fruit doesn't rot because moisture is absent and bacteria cannot take a foothold. The leathery fruit can be "revived" with different liquids besides water--fruit juices and liquor.

I got to thinking while munching on my apricots and toasted almonds the other day and applied this concept to the "spiritual fruit" mentioned in the Bible.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 (NASB)

I wondered, could that be one reason why some Christians complain of a "dry season"? Could God actually be withdrawing Himself for the reason of preserving or concentrating a specific spiritual fruit in our life?

I thought of Moses and his ministry...he had killed a man just after he started to step into the leadership role of the Israelites. God sent him into the wilderness. This was no evergreen retreat with babbling was a rocky, arid wilderness where water had to be pulled up from deep wells. For 40 years he was hung out to dry before God spoke to him and called him into action.

Then the grumbling Israelites that Moses led to the Promised Land...they longed for the abundant waters of the Nile, the cucumbers and fruits from the irrigated land in Egypt. They wanted to turn back and figured slavery was better than what God had to offer. And again...God led them into a serious drying time in the desert, another 40 years!

Before Jesus went into ministry, He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness...but not for 40 years. He had no sin to be dealt with. He was there for 40 days and He was tested by satan. I wonder if Jesus felt like God had abandoned Him for a time?

I want to give you hope during your own "dry time" with God. After searching your heart and making sure there is not some unconfessed sin in your life, maybe God is working on some dried fruit with you. How's your patience lately? And your self-control, is it doing well? What about your joy, is it present during the day?

When you have waited on God for a season, how is that fruit of patience? And how much more joy is there when you have years of silence shattered by news of God's joy coming round the bend? Our kindness can become so much sweeter when we experience the dust of apathy--the trick is not to allow your fruit to become bitter.

When we tend our garden properly with prayer and confession, we harvest sweet spirit fruit. Then, when the Lord withdraws and His presence seems to be drawn from our souls with a thunderclap--get ready! Your spirit fruit is being condensed, preserved and room is being made for His Living Water to revive it into a more intense experience.

He will pour out His Spirit and Living Water into and onto your life again. And oh how sweet and intense that fruit will become!  Just promise me you won't make fruitcake with it.

Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see—
how good God is.
Blessed are you who run to him.

Psalm 34:8 (MSG)

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