Growing up on a small farm in Elmira, Oregon, one of my favorite places was our apple orchard—one gnarly old tree in particular. Not because its ancient arms were the perfect perch on which to dream away an afternoon beneath a canopy of sun-warmed leaves (although they were). But because this particular tree—amid a mass of more mellow McIntosh’s—produced perfect green apples so tangy and tart, I could hardly wait from when the hard, new fruit appeared each summer until the fall when it would ripen.
Three decades later, I now live with my own family on the coast of Maine in one of the most densely populated neighborhoods in the state amid an orchard of peaked roofs and parking lots. And yet, beside my front porch grows an apple tree. I discovered it more than a decade ago after my husband, Dana, and I moved here with our then nine-month old son. Overshadowed by pines and thick scrub, the tree was tall and spindly, its branches mere twigs with fragrant white flowers. But, disappointingly, the fruit it promised quickly fell to the ground before ripening.
And so I donned work gloves and borrowed Dana’s saw and spent one Saturday clearing brush and cutting the surrounding trunks to give the tree more light. Over the following years, Dana pruned and trimmed. Slowly, the apple tree’s branches thickened and spread until they were strong enough to hold ripened fruit. Last fall its bounty filled my kitchen with cobbler and pie.
My work as a writer has followed a similar path. Although I’ve often longed to walk through an orchard gate and pluck fruit from an already matured tree, I have had to clear brush and allow God to prune me as I wait for the fruit of my work to ripen. This takes hard work, patience, and the steady light of faith— faith that my barren branches will one day produce a harvest.
“He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it,” Scripture promises. And so I keep working and writing and allowing myself to be pruned as I wait for that first tart cobbler.
Do you struggle to keep working toward a goal while waiting for God’s gifts to bear fruit in you?