Bearing Good Fruit
“Whoa, Amy! Don’t crumple up on us now,” Chuck teased, reaching out a hand as I stumbled over some rough stones on what was little more than a dirt path winding around the mountain. Shifting my army surplus backpack, I stopped. The tropical sun beat down on us. Even in the shade, I was soaked in sweat, I plucked my t-shirt away from my skin and looked at my three companions. “Do we have any food left? Please say we do.”
Chuck knelt on the ground and carefully lifted off his heavy backpack “The sucker is staying in here,” he said, referring to the camp stove. “until we settle for the night.”
Debra took off her sunglasses and wiped the sweat away, leaving a grimy trail behind with her hand. She called over to the only local in the group , “Hey, Tico, I could go for some fruit.”
“Un momento,” a besotted Martín said. “Be right back.” A few minutes later, he returned with three enormous pieces of fruit wrapped up in the bottom of his t-shirt. “Naranjas!” he declared.
Chuck’s eyes widened. “I have never seen oranges that big in my life. They’re bigger than grapefruit!”
Our *Tico friend laughed and reached into his pocket, extracting a small knife. He unfolded it and cut through the peel, juice flying everywhere. He handed one half to Debra. “Try this.”
“Ahhhh. That is sooo juicy,” she said licking her fingers and lips as she held the dripping orange away from her. She peeled some of the orange rind off and bit into the juicy flesh.“¡Rica!”
“Wait a minute, Tico, you only brought three oranges and there’s four of us, ” I pointed out. “We’re going to split ’em in half, huh?” I didn’t want to miss out. I watched as he popped a large bite in his mouth and juice dribbled down his chin. “I hope the others taste as good as that one.”
“Of course all taste with good flavor. Every fruit on that tree is such delicious as this one.”
I ignored the grammarian in me and waited, as he cut another in half and offered me my portion. It tasted as good as they said. “Oh my gosh, is that fantastic or what?” Juicy was right. “Wow! Can you pick some more to take with us?”
He smiled. “I get a few more. They are many,” he said spreading his hands to give me an idea of the amount of oranges still hanging on the tree.
*Tico is the masculine Spanish term for a native Costa Rican. It also became our nickname for our friend.
Fast forward thirty-five years later. A year ago, my sister and her husband planted red raspberry bushes alongside their driveway. Last summer, the bushes overflowed with berries. My nieces gorged on them and stripped the bushes bare, or so the grown-ups claimed. The berries, rich, red and sweet, acted like a magnet and caused everyone to gather around when they came to the house.
Each of these fruits trees have borne good fruit. I will never forget those huge, picked-straight-from-the-tree, sun-warmed oranges as long as I live. And the berries are fresh in my mind. In fact, I’m reminded of these fruits when I read the verse in Ephesians 7:17. “A good tree bears good fruit but a bad tree bears bad fruit.” According to Martín, that orange tree on the Costa Rican mountainside could only produce quality oranges. My sister claimed the soil was rich at her house and that’s why the berries were so plentiful. Carolyn, who was in the last stages of her cancer, made sure no one left the house without taking a bagful of berries.
Watching the struggle of my sister’s last days changed me. I could see how much good fruit she was bearing in spite of being bed-bound. Everyone left her house blessed, not just with fruit, but by her sweet nature. Visitors came to encourage her but left encouraged themselves.
Sometimes I think, what kind of fruit can I bear? I’m losing my vision and my hearing. People have to help me much more than I help them. I feel discouraged until I think of my sister, who went from a healthy 150-pound woman always on-the-go reduced to almost half that size lying in a bed. She never lost her smile. People from all periods of her life called by phone and in person. They wrote her letters, sent her cards and prayed for her with a vigilance that did not surprise me.
Every night I lie in bed and think about my sister and how she lived her life. I think of the red raspberries growing in that rich fertile dirt by the side of her house and those sweet, juicy oranges, which grew in equally fertile soil in the southern hemisphere.
The verse in Ephesians ends with these words: “They will recognize [me] by my fruit.”
As I toss and turn under the covers, I ask God to make my soil fertile and rich so that I can produce good fruit.
Although I do fear for my future in different ways, I don’t have to fear that becoming blind and deaf will limit how I serve others.
God will speak directly into my heart and take me to those He wants me to bless. I only need to be sensitive to His will and the Holy Spirit’s call in my life.
Whatever our limitations are, we don’t have to fear that we cannot impact others positively around us. Whether it’s offering a real fruit or producing a spiritual fruit, God has a job for us to do.
What are you favorite fruits? Have you traveled to another country? Is there a fruit you can’t stand?
You’ve just read, “Bearing Good Fruit,” by Amy L. Bovaird. © Copyright Feb 5, 2015. Please Like and Share this post in your social networks. I would love to read your comments.