“So as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” (Col. 1:10 ESV)
Shortly after we moved to our new home, our neighbour across the road gave me a potted plant. She told me the seeds had been given to her by her cousin, she had planted it, and that it was a wisteria.
I was delighted. I remember wisteria from my childhood and have always loved the long, lacy flowers. Being from California, I had always thought wisteria wouldn’t grow in such a cold climate; but apparently I was wrong, because my neighbour has a beautiful wisteria plant that she had trained into a tree.
It was with visions in my head of a wisteria vine in my new yard that I eagerly accepted the gift, carefully chose a spot with just the right amount of sun and planted my little treasure.
The following spring I watched it with anticipation as it leafed out. I didn’t expect blooms for the first 10 years, as I had been told it could take that long for a young wisteria to bloom. Nonetheless, I built a trellis in the fall and began training it to climb the trellis. This past spring I again began watching the “vine” with anticipation. Would it like my trellis? Would it maybe surprise all of us with blooms?
Not that I expected those blooms…Nonetheless, when I went out one day to examine my prize, I noticed little “buds”! Would my wisteria have blooms this year?
I went over to my neighbour’s house and examined her beautiful wisteria. Hum. Her plant was already in full bloom. No little “buds”. There was something odd about her tree, however. The leaves weren’t the same as my little plant…Were there different kinds of wisteria?
A brief internet search revealed that wisteria leaves are all pretty similar, no matter the variety, and none of them looked anything like the leaves on my precious “vine”…
I went back then to look at those “buds”… Wait! They looked a lot like — little berries! Somewhere in the back of my mind I remembered seeing buds like that before… Yes. It was on the weeping mulberry tree we had at a former residence… I pinched off a leaf and went back to the computer to google “mulberry leaves”. Sure enough, they matched perfectly… All this time that I had been nurturing what I thought was a wisteria vine, I have actually been nurturing a fledgling mulberry tree!
The whole thing makes me think. How often do we think we are nurturing a certain thing in our lives, only to discover in the end that this “thing” was something else totally different?
Not connecting the dots? Here are a few examples:
All my life I’ve been insecure. Following the advice of self-help groups, I’ve done plenty of things to build my own security, one of which was to convince myself that I truly deserved to have this or that, to receive respect from this person or that one, to be treated in this or that manner. Imagine my surprise … and my horror … when God recently revealed to me that my efforts to overcome insecurity had developed into a very strong sense of entitlement! No wonder I suffer from so much self-pity! I’ve been busy caring for the wrong plant!
Throughout my working career, I worked hard to earn respect. I had good attendance, I was dependable, I presented as knowledgeable and attentive. How it thrilled my soul when my manager came to me for advice about hiring, purchasing, structuring, etc. Imagine my horror when God revealed to me that my efforts to earn respect had resulted in the ugly fruit of pride! And although my manager respected me, my patients and colleagues, not so much! I had been busy caring for a “wisteria” of respect that was really a “mulberry” of pride! At some point, God helped me to realize that true respect was earned by a loving, giving spirit, and He helped me to develop this in my heart towards my patients and my colleagues…
One last example: I have struggled with pride all of my life. I have been aware of this, and I have sought to act less proud. Imagine my horror when it was revealed to me that my pride hadn’t change to humility, which was the fruit I thought I was nurturing; but rather, it had morphed into something far worse: Piety! I “looked” humble, but in my heart, the pride reigned! I had been so busy caring for my “wisteria” of humility that I never noticed that it was actually becoming a “mulberry” of piety!
I could go on, but I think the point is clear: We need to examine our hearts to determine what fruits we are truly nurturing!
There is only one way now for me to have a wisteria on that spot on that trellis, and that is to uproot the mulberry seedling and plant a wisteria vine in its place. My entltlement, my piety and my need for respect must also be uprooted completely so that God can grow a loving, humble, self-secure spirit in its place in my heart.
I would encourage each of you to take a moment to examine your lives. What fruit are you nurturing? Are the desired things you wish to feed really what you think they are? Or are you, like me, harbouring a “mulberry” that you think is a “wisteria”?
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart
Moderator, Associate Director, Answers2Prayer Ministries