"Yes, I am the vine; and you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:5
Maturity is the natural process of all healthy growing things. In the spring we plant seeds or seedlings in our gardens and flowerbeds. Over the summer, if tended to properly, they grow, flourish, and ultimately bear fruit. In the garden the harvest is the payoff for the months of work. First we planted, then we weeded and watered, now we reap the fruit of our labors. It’s a process that pays off in the end.
Just as with the plants in our gardens, so it is in our spiritual life. The seed of the Word of God is planted. The miraculous moment of new life comes when we are reborn. From that point on, the new life within us develops toward fruitfulness. If we provide the proper means of growth, we can expect that we will develop to maturity. For us the maturing process is becoming more and more like Jesus. It does not happen in a sudden rush, but by slow and steady growth. God is just fine with that.
Much of what we experience in this world has been tainted by the pathogen of the instantaneous. We have information instantly accessible to us. We can shop on line and the item we want will be on our doorstep that day, or the next at the latest. At one time we would have had to make a list and plan a shopping trip for our next day off. We can summon whatever programming and entertainment we want with the click of a few keys. We wait for nothing. Processes have been truncated and our patience has declined as quickly as our expectations have increased.
When it comes to our spiritual maturity, God is patient. It is not that he is accepting of laziness or disinterest on our part. Not at all. He calls us to wholeheartedly engage in our journey with him. He calls for obedience and diligence. Yet he understands that it is a process that takes time and that it is by walking with Jesus that we grow and mature into who he has made us to be.
When Jesus said to Simon, “Your name is Simon, son of John, but you will be called Cephas” (John 1:42), he was looking ahead through many seasons of growth. Jesus knew that there were many sessions of weeding, feeding, and watering between where Peter was and where he ultimately would be. He knows that when we come to new life in him it is the first stage in a long process. He loves the process for he knows that as we walk with Jesus, we grow closer to him and become more like him. It is in the process that God brings about the changes in us that he wants to see.
How wonderful it is to have God as our gardener! If you commit yourself to knowing him and following him, he will tend your life well and lead you to fruitfulness. Remember, the process is a beautiful part of the journey.