I wrap my fingers around the warmth of its redness, and the apple fairly drops into my palm. Two-fisted, I pluck one, then another and another. The crop is so heavy — branches bowed to the ground, leaves splayed onto the grass.
There is a bounty this year. These apple trees entered the season with a showy display of pink and white, blossoms huge and heavy with scent. Did we know in the spring? Did we reckon on the harvest they would bring?
It is a springtime celebration, and I smile as I watch the young couple lean into one another, heads touching, hands clasped between them. She, in the purest of white, veil tipped back to reveal her youthful glow. He, lean and strong in black cloth that feels foreign to him, but causes him to stand straighter, taller with the gravity of this honor: To take a bride, to pledge to love, to promise fruit.
Across the lawn from the bounty of apples, behind the barn and against the fence, a tangled mound of green leaves spills from a towering height, pressing down, reaching up. For two decades, these kiwi vines have sprouted leaves, stretched through the summer, then withered and died. The plants were meant to bear fruit. There was promise of fruit when their roots were sunk into the ground. But year-to-year, their healthy appearance is deceptive and they remain barren.
A twilight couple pulls their chairs close together, resting finally after a morning of shared work at their little fruit stand in the valley. Side-by-side, they’ve walked 50 years, borne children, welcomed grandchildren, great-grandchildren, shared sorrow, trials, joy and faith. They’ll set aside the work tomorrow to remember the early autumn day they pledged their troth, and she remembers this: “Standing at the back of the church ready to walk down the aisle, I was nervous and scared. I prayed I was making the right decision because we knew it would be a lifetime one. My thought was how do I know I love him enough to live with him forever? My answer to myself was, I don’t know, but I do know I never want to live without him.” He took a bride, they pledged their love, together they bear fruit.
More than 150 times in His Word, God urges His people to consider their “fruit” — or lack of it. In our confusion, we believe fruit to be only the number of apples in the bucket, the souls we mark in the “Won” column. Indeed, we are called as God’s disciples to “go and make disciples of all nations”. This is our Great Commission, and in this we do “bear fruit”.
But consider also this: the gospels record that Jesus compared the lush, green, yet fruitless fig tree to the golden-domed temple where there was much activity, but no worship. No fruit.
Producing such fruit — disciples, worship — is possible only in the bearing of one fruit. Love. Love for one another, love for our Father and Creator.
Jesus’ words, recorded by the Apostle John in chapter 16, verse 15, urge His followers to labor for lasting fruit.
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to GO AND BEAR FRUIT — fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command:
Love Each Other”