It will come as no surprise to those who know me well but one of my favourite foods are berries. In fact, I have a whole section of my garden devoted to all kinds of wondrous little packages of goodness. Berries are tricky to harvest though. They require hunting and the ability to seek out the hiders. Some types of berries grow on thorny vines which makes picking even more difficult. All these soft tiny fruits also have quite a short life span. This means they need to be gathered almost daily and used quickly. Normally this would not be a problem, but I am not always home. Sometimes I am away for days at a time even though it is the middle of the peak fruiting season.
This is my dilemma. The thought of my sweet fruit falling to the ground and rotting is troubling. Knowing I can't eat freely from my own garden is annoying. Now when I am away from home, well-meaning friends have sacrificially offered me some of their produce but it's not the same. For there is a certain joy which comes from picking and eating something you grew yourself which cannot be matched by sharing another’s treasures. It is delightful to be blessed by a project and investment you have carefully sowed into.
But why do I obsess about my losses almost as much as I enjoy my harvest? If I never had the opportunity to pick my own berries, eat copious amounts of ruby fruit, have purple stained lips and fingers again I would understand my lament. However, the truth is even when I am home I have more than enough fruit to satisfy my needs. Recently I have realised perhaps my fallen fruit represents my lost opportunities, failures, quashed dreams and unfulfilled desires. My thrifty nature, Dutch heritage and my passion to live boldly and richly every day means I dislike wastage and dream extravagantly. Yet this past year there has been a lot of disappointments and seeing my rotted fruit on the ground adds to it.
Wandering in the garden this week, God reminded me afresh to give thanks for the harvest. To remember all the joys the past year has held. God encouraged me although there have been some losses He has blessed me and used me despite the messy circumstances. Deep in thought I watched as my dog followed me around the Berry Patch. Wagging her tail, she began to lick up every dropped, squashed and even slightly mouldy berry. She even had to be scolded for trying to pick off ripe berries within her reach. Here was another God lesson. Even in what I believed to be missed opportunities, or broken dreams or bad endings, God was amid those moments too and others were still being blessed.
The dictionary defines fruition as: the realisation or fulfillment of a plan or project. This past year has not been filled with satisfaction and fruition. It has been a difficult year of pain and suffering, of plans and projects abandoned BUT it has still been a fruitful year.
After my garden lesson, God gently lead me to some Bible readings which moved my heart. Isaiah 58 reminded me of His unfailing love. "The Lord will guide you always, He will satisfy your needs in a sun scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail."
Perhaps your past year has been difficult too. Perhaps you are grieving over your losses. Perhaps. you have missed some amazing opportunities. But God gives us fresh beginnings. He can turn our mourning into dancing. He is the restorer of broken ruins and broken dreams. My season is not finished. Your season is not over yet either. God has more in store for me and I know He has more in store for you too.