Happy 40th birthday to our beloved daughter, Jenny! She is a delight to us and to many. We always know her birthday is near because the raspberries are ready for harvest. We’ve been berry pickers for years. The children would help us (or help themselves) and now the grandchildren have “picked” up the tradition of harvesting berries. It’s often occurred to me in the middle of the harvest that the raspberry patch is a lot like life:
1. You need to face the heat to get the fruit.
Most folk I know like to “pick” their berries from the air conditioned store. But raspberries ripen in hot and humid weather. If you want the ones that God provided for free, you have to bear the heat. Life offers much enjoyable “fruit” that is worth the effort of bearing the “heat” of difficult situations. Productive resolution of long- standing conflict comes to mind. Maybe you can think of some “heated” situations you’ve been avoiding too long.
2. You need to go where it’s buggy.
Mosquitoes, daddy long legs, and other creepy crawlies like the berry patch and you have to work alongside them to bring in the harvest. Relationships too are frequented by things that bug us. The best of relationships are those that have learned to deal with them fearlessly, openly, and honestly. (Believe me, I am quite honest with the mosquitoes!)
3. You need to focus on the goal.
The goal is harvesting the fruit. We get distracted by so many things in the pursuit of life that we forget our real goals. Jesus gave us just one final goal: bring in the harvest. What are you focused on these days?
4. Be willing to bear the scars.
Wild raspberry plants are covered with prickly thorns. Inevitably, there will be some scratches and scars. We’d like to avoid the scars of life but our most productive efforts are in thorny situations where we’re bound to be marked.
5. Maintain firm footing.
Wild raspberries often grow in uneven ground. If you misstep and go tumbling, you’ll end up tangled in thorns and lose your goods. God’s Word reminds us often that the key to enduring the tough parts is to stand firm, trusting on his whole Word, not just the comfy parts.
6. Bend low.
Many of the best berries are hidden from view under the branches. To find them you have to stoop down and look from a different angle. Often in life we also have to be willing to humble ourselves and look at things – and people – from a different point of view. God promises he will lift up those who humble themselves.
7. Reach for the goal.
Most the berries aren’t within easy grasp and it takes a long reach through the thorns to pick the good ones. It’s tempting to take the easy paths in life, to do what pleases us and brings us comfort. But we miss so many harvest opportunities when we play it safe on the sidelines of life’s patch.
8. Not all the good berries are big and plump.
Berries come in all sizes. Even the smaller ones add tasty juice to the jam. People come in all varieties too. Don’t miss the opportunity to harvest a relationship with ones you might easily dismiss.
9. Savor the fruit.
We enjoy fresh raspberries by themselves, in jam, and over ice cream. We trust them because we picked them ourselves. But much of our produce goes to others, because just like life, it’s more enjoyable when the harvest is shared.
It’s not a deep theological discussion but I hope you find the lessons of God in the simple things in your life and that the harvest of your efforts is full of goodness.