“You have to clean the vase from these Rudina, the soil needs to breath” my friend explained to me, while visiting with us. She was a student of environment engineering and as an expert I needed her opinion on how to take care for some of the plants in our terrace, that were not doing well. We have tried to water them as we were told when we bought them, but yet they were withering and loosing leafs every day.

“Really, I thought these would fertilize the soil?” I mumbled as I was looking at the dry leaves that I had put on the vases

“No, she smiled-  these do not help them to breath. Also you need to remove these”

Those were tiny new branches here and there. “Should I remove those too?!” I could not believe my ears. Are not those a sign of a healthy shoot?

“These are temporary branches, they do not live more than a year, thus they take the sap from the main branches, for this reason you have to remove them” And she started to show me the main and important branches that needed to be helped to grow.

My friend started to prune the orange, showing me step by step which branch to prune and exactly how.  All of a sudden I felt as a new world had been opened to me, a world full of simple secrets for which I was not aware at all, and have done them in the wrong way. For example, that little cute tiny snail, which I wanted to help to live and have made the apple tree its new home, was the reason why the apple tree was withering. Also, I had noticed other small plants and flowers sprouting from the soil of another plant, and I thought it was cute- two plants could be grown in the same pot. Wrong! I learned that I had to uproot the secondary plants and plant them in a different vase, as the soil in the vase was not enough for two plants to grow healthy. The next day I uprooted the fig young plant from the Lilly’s vase and planted it in another vase, without success. The following day, the green fig plant had withered completely. My friend would explain to me later that you could not uproot plants in that way, but you have to carefully shake them off the vase and then carefully dust all the soil so the roots would not be damaged. I had uprooted them by force. Another important lesson.

For a moment I felt as I was in my life’s grove. What was growing in my life? Were there weeds, secondary plants, snails that had invaded my territory and were taking away the sap from my life? Which were those temporary branches, focuses and activities, which should be pruned so that the main branches would grow and produce fruit? Was the soil of my life fertile? Plants and trees need a constant fertilization. How about me, how was I fertilizing the soil of my life? How was I taking care in order to grow healthy?

We are in ministry, we know these elementary truths so well, we teach it to others. But had I been wise and attentive to inspect my life and take the needed actions in order to be fruitful?

We all are familiar with the parable of soils. The good soil is the one that yields much fruit. When we think about the good soil, somehow we are tempted to think that that kind of soil happens to be, kind of you’re lucky if you find that soil. But as my friend was teaching me about gardening, I started to see the good soil from another angle.

The good soil does not happen to be; it does not appear overnight. The good soil has been cleaned from rocks, weeds and thorns and all other kind of plants that are not the focus of the harvest you want to take from that soil. This soil has been worked, plowed, prepared, fertilized, watered in a regular way according to the needs. It has not left unattended, but the owner has been intentional and committed to create the necessary conditions depended on him, to make sure that he will have a good harvest. Jesus’ audience, coming from an agriculture background, knew very well what that meant.

If we want our lives and ministries to be fruitful like the good soil, then we have to be seriously proactive and shake the passive mode. Yes, God makes it to grow, but He has called us to partner with Him in this endeavor. We need to take care for the seed of the Gospel planted in us and in others we are discipling, not allowing it to become fruitless. Those simple steps that we teach to young believers, are those simple truths who are the secret of fruitfulness. Feeding ourselves from the Word, cultivating godly character and habits, spiritual discipline, keeping our lives free and clean from sin- walking in repentance and humbleness, pruning our priorities and activities in order to rederict our energy and strength toward the main vision and call in our lives.  Asking God to give us wisdom and discernment how to do pruning.

Today, if you do an inspection of your life and ministry, what would you say about them? What do you see growing in your personal and ministry fields? How strong and healthy it is what you have planted? Can you say that you will receive a plentiful harvest out of it?

If not, what do you need to change today to make sure you will ripe a good harvest in its season?

I would love to leave us with this vision from the Psalms that has always been an encouragement to me:

“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,

they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;

13planted in the house of the Lord,

they will flourish in the courts of our God.

14They will still bear fruit in old age,

they will stay fresh and green,

15proclaiming, “The Lord is upright;

he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”” Psalmi 92:13-15

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