(Note: I wrote this in July 2003; Ben would have been not quite 3 years old.)
It was 7 am. The front door was wide open, and the mosquitoes were accepting the implied invitation into our home. As I looked out across our driveway, I had to smile at the familiarity of this scene: Benjamin, still in his pajamas, was carefully picking blackberries.
We’ve taken to calling him "berry boy.” After our Virginia vacation, I reminded him of our swimming, fishing and cave-exploring fun. Then I asked, "What was your favorite part?" "Taking walks," he said immediately. "I liked picking da behweez!" For him, the treasures found on the roadside bushes were the highlight of his week.
Matthew does not share his brother’s passion. For him, the thorns, the sweat, the spider webs and the purple hands make berry-picking work, not fun. But for Benjamin, these obstacles are a small price to pay for gaining a fistful of fruit. He likes the "duicy ones.” I’ve watched him climb right into the middle of a tangled patch, be stuck by thorns on all sides, and barely seem to notice. He recognizes the color of good fruit; he warns me not to pick the "wed ones" because they’re not "wipe." His face and his clothes are perpetually marked with streaks of purple.
Benjamin is generous with his little gems. He offers a moist handful to Frank for his cereal, and brings them to play group to give to friends. He carries a cupful in our car, just in case he finds someone who might want a taste. He wants to share his "blackberry delight" with everyone!
His devotion to harvesting fruit, no matter the mess or discomfort, is a good example to me. For those who belong to Christ, the Spirit who lives within us is working spiritual "fruit" into our lives. Yet, working for this fruit can be a thorny job. There is pain involved in being patient in trials, in giving love to someone unlovely, in being gentle instead of harsh with my words.
I too easily lean toward physical comfort and laziness — trying to dodge the thorns, missing out on the fruit that’s hidden behind them. I find sitting on the couch with a good book more comfortable than pursuing blackberries (or faithfulness). But the rewards of couch-sitting are minimal compared to braving the berry patch. And what fruit do I have to share with others, after I’ve finished my last chapter?
I want to seek God’s fruit in my life with the same eagerness I see in Benjamin toward his berry-picking. I want to disregard the cost, and clutch the tiny fruits in my hand like holy treasure.
I want to view my life with God’s eyes. Certainly, when God sees His children growing in these spiritual fruits — pursuing them, practicing them, taking joy in sharing them — He delights in His harvest.