One of the things I enjoy about living in Eastern Washington is the four seasons. My favorite is summer! Of my most loved summer activities, making jam and canning peaches is at the top of the list. First in the middle of June is strawberries, then in early-to mid-July is raspberries, followed at the end of August with blackberries and peaches. It’s a really good summer for me when I have had the opportunity to jam or can each of the above listed fruits. I am happy to report it has been an excellent summer!
Just this Friday my hubby (willingly) and son (not as willingly -smile-) joined me for an afternoon of pickin’. We went to the farm stand to get our buckets. As we were there a lady ahead of us was asking if the raspberries were in season. I have to admit pride reared its ugly head as I thought, “She is obviously a novice, everybody knows the raspberry season is over.” The worker informed her raspberries were over but blackberries were ready to pick. She asked if they were picked over and the worker said that people were finding blackberries but you had to look for them. She got her buckets and was on her way. We then visited with the workers, got our buckets and were also on our way. By the time we got to the blackberry patch, the lady who was ahead of us, was already done picking. She had about a cup of blackberries in her bucket, said they were slim-pickings and asked me if I would like what they picked because they were leaving. I gratefully accepted her offerings, but got a little discouraged because of her report.
We got started walking down the rows of blackberries. Look at these cute little fellow-pickers.
As we walked we saw many berries that were not quite ripe yet. The farm worker was right, you did have to search for the ripe berries. We spent about 30-40 minutes searching for the ripe berries. This entailed work on our part – squatting down,
looking at each bunch
and plucking the ripe ones into our buckets.
As we did, our son kept us going by asking questions, “Daddy, is it true that a fly’s life span is only 24 hours?” and sharing little known facts he has picked up in 12 short years, “Mommy, did you know Febreze also kills wasps?”
Once in a while, I would call out, “I found the grand prize winner!” Each time, my son would say, “Mom, there can only be one grand prize winner.”
Finally, we had found enough fruit to make at least a couple batches of jam.
As we were paying for our fruit, the worker said, “Wow. You did a good job, how long were you out there?” I replied, “About 30-40 minutes, but we had three pickers.” “Still, that’s pretty impressive,” he replied.
I smiled as I left and thought how his “well-done” somehow made the work of pickin’ worth it.
Ministry can be a lot like blackberry pickin’:
- There is a lot of fruit in our ministries. This fruit is also known as people.
- In order to be effective in finding the fruit, you can’t give up too soon. Much like the lady who handed me her cup of berries, if you are unwilling to invest time and effort, you will have a small harvest. Don’t let others reports of “slim-pickins” discourage you from looking for the fruit among those you lead.
- People, like berries, take time to ripen. Adequate watering in the Word and Sonshine will do the trick, turning under-ripe people into those who are ready to be plucked into Christ’s service by the hand of the Master. You are incredibly privileged to be used by Him in the process.
- To God, each of us is the grand prize winner! The fruit of our lives brings Him much joy, just like making jam does to mine!
Be encouraged! I know sometimes working with people can be a challenge. But, one day, Jesus will say, “Wow, that’s impressive, good job!” and present you with a crown that represents your obedience to Him in discipling, training and helping others grow. What a beautiful token of your faithfulness that will be, but in light of His glory, it will mean nothing as you look upon Jesus Who was so worthy of your hard work and you will lay that crown down at His feet.
Be blessed today fellow fruit-picker!
Your Friend in Ministry,