Typically, I’m not a big “foodie”. Don’t get me wrong– I appreciate eating things that are delicious. But having survived off of my own (rather dismal) cooking for years, food has just become something that keeps me alive– not necessarily something that I go to for enjoyment.
Or at least that was the case until I had a vast array of fresh, California produce at my finger tips this month. Everywhere you turn around out there, there are gigantic, juicy fruits and vegetables and I must say, I was in heaven! (I mean, when our family had a huge block party for the 4th of July, I bar-be-qued corn, mangoes, and pineapples– not because I’m a super healthy person (although I wish I was), but because the produce there is fresh from the source and unlike any food that you can find in Colorado.) And knowing that I was about to return home, I crammed my backpack full of fresh produce and looked like a complete nutjob on the airplane.
But in a weird way, I’m glad I rebelled against TSA’s “suggested items not to pack in your carry-on” list, as I received more joy out of my smuggled treats than I had anticipated.
You see, last week while munching on a smuggled California kiwi and doing some work for my summer job, I had a sermon podcast from my home church, Scum of the Earth, running in my headphones.
The topic of the sermon? Living closer with God
The verses that Mike (Scum’s pastor) felt the Holy Spirit leading him to? John 15:4-5
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
At first, I just giggled at the coincidence between my snack and the fact that I was listening to my pastor speak about fruit before continuing on to plug information about some software company into its respective email. But as the sermon went on, I began making more and more connections between what Mike was saying and where I currently was in relationship to God.
The first connection: The relationship between fresh fruit and its source. The fruit in California tastes better because it is brought to me shortly after being removed from its vine/tree/root. The farmer harvests (is that the proper term for something that’s not chili? I don’t know… #Mexicanproblems) the crop right at its peak ripeness and because it has a shorter distance to travel before it lands in my hands, it is sweeter. My snack gets to remain attached to its source and be nourished longer, and therefore continues to grow and become better and better.
The second connection: The relationship between my life and my Source.
I don’t know about you, but I can feel a difference in myself when I spend time with God and when I don’t. If God and I aren’t in communication either overtly or subconsciously, suddenly, “old, ghetto me” peeks out of hiding. I get easily annoyed by the little things, short-tempered, overly snarky, and if enough time goes by, just down-right mean. And while I’m not proud to admit it, toward the end of my last stay in California, I was beginning to get revert-igo and was sliding right back into those old characteristics.
Galatians 5:22-23 tells us that the “fruit” that John 15 is referring to “is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control”…and as I grumpily sat working on a coffee shop patio, listening to Mike speak, I was lacking almost all of these.
Why? It’s simple: I wasn’t actively in communication with God.
As Mike says in the aforementioned sermon, “Not to advance is to retreat. When does a plant stop growing? When you stop watering it and it starts dying. There is no middle ground here.”
I was grumpy, impatient, and lacking in joy because I wasn’t watering my spiritual plant. I was allowing myself to die, day by day, choice by choice.
As someone who tried to plant a garden in her classroom and accidentally killed it by not watering it over spring break, you would think I would have this elementary principle of gardening down pat.
But, I guess I don’t…
My last few days in California, and even for my first few days back home, I wasn’t intentional about tending to my relationship with God. Sometimes I would wake up late and forget to have quiet time in the midst of a chaotic morning. Other times, I was too apathetic to pick up my Bible instead of my iPad on my break or late at night.
We’ve all been there.
But unlike my classroom garden that I didn’t exactly mourn after I killed it, my relationship with God is important to me. Who I am in Him and whether I am doing His work or not, is important to me.
Too important for me to simply stop watering it and allow myself to shrivel away.
So yes, I’m a sucky gardener, but I’m making an effort to, well… make an effort.
Where are you with God today? Are you picking up something that is going to draw you closer to Him? Or are you allowing yourself to shrivel up and die one decision at a time?
Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”
Philippians 4: 6-7 (The Message)
(If you’re interested in hearing the wonderful sermon I’ve mentioned, the podcast can be found in the Scum archives here. It’s worth a listen, I promise.)