In light of beginning my 37th year, I am taking some time to discuss some new habits that I will be trying over the next month (in no particular order.)
Did you know that an apple tree typically doesn't bear fruit until 6-10 years after being planted? (Yeah, me either. I had to look it up. I do love finding immediate answers online!) Even though there is no outward fruit borne in those first years, the tree still grows, right? Root systems, branches, leaves...you get the picture.
In a culture that is filled with the immediate: cell phones, texting, email, information online,etc. I think we sometimes find it challenging to do that which does not produce instant results. I think this is why many struggle with regularly practicing the spiritual disciplines. We don't always see the immediate benefit of reading and reflecting on Scripture, or setting aside time for intentional prayer. But those practices, if done regularly and intentionally, do bear fruit.
We may not bear fruit right away, but that doesn't mean growth isn't happening. (Fortunately, most of us won't have to wait 6-10 years before we see fruit being borne from spiritual practices.) Hopefully we are falling more in love with the God who made us; we are growing more comfortable in conversation with God (i.e. prayer); as we read and pray over the beautiful and sacred texts of the Bible we begin to see how our story fits into God's Story. Such growth in these areas is wonderful, but it may not come across as outward fruit.
Yet with such a rich grounding in prayer, scripture reading, and reflection, our roots are deep and we begin to bear fruit. The effects of intentional time spent in spiritual practices is cumulative!
You see I don't always love God well or perfectly, but I want to. I don't always have control over my frustration or anger or desires, but I want to. I don't love others like Jesus calls me to, but I want to. I long to have a life that bears fruit.
Just as I have to do the training to run a marathon, if I want to...love God better...love my neighbor better...be more like Christ...bear fruit...I need to allow God to work in my life through the spiritual practices.
Thus, my second practice is to be more consistent with my spiritual practices. I believe that the more consistent I am at intentionally being present to God, the better the likelihood I can join God in the work he is doing in my life, the church, the community, and the world.
NOTE: I already pray, read scripture, journal, etc., just not as consistently as I did before children. Kids are my explanation for falling off the wagon, not an excuse! I want to intentionally work to get back on the wagon.