A few weekends ago my husband and I took our five youngest children apple picking at a local orchard. At the farm stand, we paid for the large bag we would be allowed to fill and were then pointed in the direction of the rows in the orchard to pick from.
The autumn temperatures were comfortable and the trees on the mountains in the distance were just beginning to turn colors as my husband and I walked slowly, savoring this delightful autumn experience and the distinct smell of harvest that hung in the air. As the children laughed in wonder and skipped about the neatly planted rows of mature trees bearing clusters of ripe apples, we breathed in gratefulness for the privilege of this beautiful day.
Soon it was time to get busy and the children were instructed to look for and pick ripe, pretty apples without blemishes. With happy exclamations of pride over every choice, they carefully plucked apple after apple. Full of pleasure, their laughter rang out until the bag we had purchased bulged round and heavy.
With my husband carrying the heavy bag, we began our walk back through the orchard rows to our parked car. Each child happily crunched a fresh, self-picked apple and I, too, enjoyed my own fruit, savoring the memory this day would become.
Suddenly and with great surprise, I noticed all of the waste on the ground beneath each tree: ripe apples, rotten apples, blemished apples, immature apples, deformed apples – they all lay there in waste.
I instantly realized how much like these trees I was.
Yes, there are parts of my life that look delicious, are admirable and even godly. I have lived a good life, have done some good things, and perhaps even have been a good person.
But what about the waste on the ground: my selfishness, impatience, and unkindness? My failed relationships, my deep regrets, my lost son, my anger that hurts the people I love, and my daily sins that grieve and sadden my Heavenly Father…?
I instantly thought of the fruits of the spirit.
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23 NLT
Walking through the apple orchard with my family, it truly was a picture-perfect day. The fruity fragrance hung thick in the autumn air as I bit into my own crunchy apple and fervently asked God to help me bear more fruit for Him.