By Debbonnaire Kovacs, submitted May 13, 2015

They are like trees planted by streams of water,
bearing fruit in due season,

with leaves that do not wither;
everything they do shall prosper. Ps 1:3

When I was young, I believed that the truly dedicated Christian life would be continuously fruitful, continuously victorious, and reasonably balanced. That is to say, I never was naïve enough, even as a child, to believe that life on this planet would be problem-free. I knew there would be ups and downs; I just thought if you could maintain your dedication, “stay your mind on him,” those ups and downs would be less extreme than otherwise.

Let’s just say…life wasn’t. Not balanced, not particularly victorious, and only erratically fruitful.

One day I was reading Psalm 1, and it dawned on me that I had it all wrong. According to this verse, life is actually meant to have seasons. Like the planet. “Seedtime and harvest, summer and winter.” God promised with the rainbow that those wouldn’t perish from the earth. Was it possible he meant the same for human lifespans?

What does it take to be a truly dedicated, fruitful Christian?

Like [a] tree planted by streams of water…

In the Middle East, then as now, water is a big deal. Well, it’s a big deal everywhere, but in arid climates it’s not taken for granted. To be truly healthy and fruitful, a tree needs to be planted near water. This means that even when the summer sun has dried up the surface water, the tree’s roots can still reach an aquifer.

Jesus likened the Holy Spirit to “living water,” that is, an artesian spring, flowing from deep within. What are the ways that you nurture your awareness of and participation in that welling of eternal life?

…bearing fruit in due season…

This was the line that startled me. No fruit tree bears all year. They bear for a few weeks each year. And some require bad weather, too. Apples, for instance, don’t bear well if they don’t get at least 30 days below freezing.

Huh.

What would be the “due season” of the soul? Are there times when we are meant to be producing fruit and times when we are meant to be resting? Then, of course, there are the in-between seasons, of preparation for bearing (budding, flowering, being pollinated, losing flowers, and beginning hard little fruits) and of weariness after bearing. Some fruit trees look pretty ragged after bearing, especially if they bore a bumper crop.

I wonder if that’s why Jesus sometimes wandered off into the hills? How do you seek nurture before, during, and after fruiting times in your life?

…with leaves that do not wither…

See, this is what threw me off. I thought it meant you stayed green, so to speak, all year. But fruit trees are generally (though not always) deciduous. And even evergreens go through a season of dropping yellow needles and being rejuvenated. Right now, in May, my hollies all look pretty scruffy, with nearly half their leaves yellow and tons of them on the ground. No barefooting around here right now!

Is this a “due season” thing, too? Does it just mean you don’t wither from actual disease or drought, since you have that artesian spring nearby? Can you think of times when your “leaves” have “withered,” and after the fact, you can discern whether it was a timely and expected withering or not? If not, what can you do to seek healing for spiritual disease, or seek more water?

… everything they do shall prosper.

Everything? Boy, it sure doesn’t seem like it! Could it be that this, too, has a different definition than I thought?

Something to consider, and pray about.