by Emily Roth
When I moved to Spain last January, my roommate had an orchid plant on the dining table. Its flowers shriveled and died. We wondered if it would bloom again or if the whole plant would go soon. I don’t have much experience caring for plants, especially nothing as exotic as an orchid. So we gave the orchid water, moved it in front of the window, and hoped for the best.
Jesus told his disciples, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4-5).
Many of Jesus’ parables use agriculture to describe the kingdom of God. This made sense to the people following him because they witnessed nature’s realities on a daily basis. They lived according to the seasons and knew what needed to be done in each. For those of us today who are not farmers or gardeners, it’s a little harder to relate.
One of the things taken for granted in agriculture, and often overlooked now, is the practice of waiting. You need patience to grow plants. You can’t give up after a week or even a month. If you want to see blossoms and fruit, you have to be patient. You can’t fake it, and there are no shortcuts. Plants cannot be hurried.
Lately, life has felt a lot like gardening. Some days I can handle it well. Other days I feel like saying, “¡Vamos!” (“Come on! Let’s go!”). I want to rush forward and do big, great things for God. On those days, I don’t have the patience for the humble work of planting, watering, and weeding. I forget that these seasons are good blessings too and necessary before harvest can come.
Bearing spiritual fruit is not an overnight process. Like with plants, it can be hard to see growth happening at all. Abiding in Jesus is slow, day-by-day, toiling in the garden. Jesus didn’t promise that it would be easy, but he did say that the ones who abide in him will bear much fruit. We can hold onto that promise through the slow days, the dark days, and the days when hope seems gone. It isn’t the work that we do that produces the fruit but the work Christ does in us when we are in his presence.
For months, the orchid’s only signs of life were the few green leaves left. Then three little buds appeared. They have since opened their gorgeous, bright faces to the sunlight.