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blossoms, fruit, and boringness…

June 20, 2019

I like spring blossoms. It might seem a bit odd to be mentioning them at the end of June, but the fact is, I live in Northern Minnesota. I wasn’t always from here; I was originally taught that April showers bring May flowers. Since moving here, I have come to accept that April and May snow will hopefully give you flowers and blossoms… some time. Some day. “May flowers” up here means you “may get flowers, if winter finally goes away.”

Thanks be to God, winter finally went away. I have a few crab apple trees in my front yard, and their blossoms are always worth waiting for. Sort of a natural, God-authored fireworks display in slow motion.

I probably appreciate them all the more because they come at the end of a bleak and somewhat colorless winter. This is always a very welcome change.

We also know that flowers lead to fruit; those many blossoms have the potential– each and every one of them– to grow into fruit that will taste great, and be nourishing. (Okay, the crab apples are really small, and mostly end up being eaten by the birds. Nevertheless, they probably taste great to the birds; they certainly get excited to eat them!)

So blossoms and fruit are great things. Once the blossoms have done their thing, however, and then the petals shed, the tree gets very… boring.

Just leaves.

Leaves as far as the eye can see.

Small little bumps here and there; look nothing like fruit. Look nothing like much of anything. Don’t do much.

From the excitement of the starting blossoms, and throughout much of the process leading to fruit, there are a whole lot of ordinary days, with ordinary living being the important rule of the day. You might wish for something more exciting, or colorful, but it’s just life. Just living.

I am, of course, speaking about more than just my crab apple trees.

In this life of faith, we have great shining moments; glorious moments where either our life of faith is new and first begun, or we have hit a mountaintop, and find ourselves excited by something new that we have learned or has come along. It might be some part of life, like a new friendship. It might be some life transition, like a new member of the family or a new stage in life itself. Whatever it is, newness often gives way to mundane. Routine. The day in and day out new version of normal. We might even wish to see great things done for God– or even just see great moments in surviving the grind, and feeling good about it down the road.

Perseverance on a hard uphill climb is hard, to be sure. Nevertheless: who can stand against the face of relentless boredom? Of repetitious monotony? The greatest test of our faithfulness and character (faithfulness towards God, or towards each other) is this kind of hardship: not the flashy moments, but the important, nourishing stuff of life which is so important, but as humdrum as brushing and flossing regularly, and eating our vegetables.

Strength training tests our strength; faithfulness training is probably the sort of training that involves going the distance for many days; day in and day out, day in and day out, day in and day out, ad infinite nausea.

At the same time, this also will help; God will use this also to grow our faith. Remaining in His word (especially important in the boring times) we read

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.” Hebrews 12:11-12 NIV

If you’re enjoying the blossoms of spiritual newness (or any kind of newness): revel in them. Enjoy them. As they fade, be warned: routine is coming, and you know not how long it will be unbroken.

If you’re in the midst of the doldrums of routine: be faithful through it. God can and will carry you anyway, but do the routine things of life, and do them faithfully. Love in a committed fashion. Pray for the grace to be patient, yet again. Remain in the word, whether or not you feel like it. Be faithful with the small things, especially if they seem small. Faithfulness in small things will be rewarded.

Take the doldrums as an exercise in faith, and keep walking one step in front of the other, leaning into God’s promise to be there with you. Learning faithfulness when you’re tired of it all will reap a harvest of righteousness one day, and will keep life from falling apart in the meantime.

Press on in the daily grind!