It is good to be home again after being on the road for the first 18 days of this month. From June 1-10 I was with a team from GracePoint Church in Powell, Wyoming. We had a fantastic trip to La Venta, Honduras, to assist Pastor Osman and Suyapa and the Santidad Church with various cement projects. The team did a great job and I really enjoyed the time we had together. They are already planning on the next time they can go back to serve again with their new friends. That is always a good sign that the trip was a success.
Following the tour I flew into Spokane to meet up with Jenny, and to spend some time with Josiah and Dakota (son and wife), Emily, Chris, Halle, and Ezra (daughter, husband, and two kids), plus several friends and family that are north of Spokane. It was a needed break for me after months of being on the road and busy with multiple trips and teams.
I had been sensing that God was trying to get my attention, to speak to me about something specific, throughout this past trip to Honduras, and it continued for several days in Washington. The last morning Emily wanted to sit on their porch and have a cup of coffee and a short visit. Time with Emily is always deeper than just the pleasantries, which I enjoy. I don’t think that either one of us realized that this was going to be a special “God moment” when we sat with coffee, but it turned out to be exactly what I had been prepared to hear.
Emily and Chris are owners of Columbia View Orchard, a beautiful family orchard and garden that
produces some of the most wonderful fruit and vegetables anywhere. It is a lot of work, especially this time of year when everything is in full growth mode. It is a time of abundant life, things growing everywhere. It is also a time of necessary “death”, or taking care of killing weeds, fixing broken things, spraying for disease, pests, and unwanted guests.
But the things we talked about that morning, which was the “good word”, was in relation to thinning.
You see, most of what Emily and Chris did during my week there was thinning the fruit growing on the trees. For many hours each day they would go around each tree, up on ladders, and thin each branch of most of the fruit. For instance, one branch of peaches may have 25 small peaches growing on it. To properly thin the branch, all the new little sucker limbs growing are broken off and tossed to the ground, and around 90% of the little peaches are also pulled off and tossed to the ground. So the same branch may have only 2 or 3 peaches left on it once the thinning is complete. Is allows the remaining fruit to mature to full size and to keep the branch from breaking from too much weight from too much fruit.
The spiritual lesson that was given to me, that “God moment” when I felt a unique speaking to me by the Holy Spirit, was this. Thinning is not the same as God pruning branches.
In Emily’s words, “I ask God while thinning, ‘God, I feel bad pulling all of this good fruit and throwing it on the ground. There is nothing wrong with these peaches. They are all healthy and would become beautiful peaches that are good to eat. It feels wasteful.’” (For pictures of this process, check out Columbia View Orchard on Facebook)
And there was the issue. I have always accepted the idea of God pruning the bad things out of my life. But what about Him thinning the “good” things? That is harder for me to fully understand. Jenny and I have spent a fair amount of time talking about this over the last several days. We look at our “branches” and they look pretty full of good fruit. (don’t worry…we have plenty of unwanted fruit, disease, and weeds too!). A busy and growing ministry. Travel to speak in churches, meet with teams that want to travel, an expanding Honduras mission, teaching financial seminars, a growing love for business and entrepreneurship, our need for local community, etc. So many wonderful things growing on our branch. But, if we do not thin some “fruit”, the branch will eventually break. Now we face the real question. What good things do we thin? At this time we do have a clear answer to that question, but we are asking God to show us, to lead us to what we need to step away from or give up altogether.
One last thing. Thinning is not a punishment! It is not getting rid of something that is bad for us.
Thinning is really a blessing, something that produces abundant life. It is good for the tree, good for the remaining fruit, and excellent for both the producer and the consumer of the fruit. So, it is good for us, and good for the people around us.
I hope that the Lord has spoken to you through this truth. Good thinning!
Director – FSI
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