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Column: Planting faith

"By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them." - Matthew 7:16-20 This passage makes the process of determining if someone is a good or bad person sound very clear. It also seems to be that way with people - produce Godly things in life, and you will be good on the inside. However, it's never that simple, which came to me when I was reading this passage. I am the daughter of someone who advises people on how to grow fruit for a living. My dad's email signature includes, "Fruit growing is not rocket science. It has more variables." Most people are not aware, but there are a million different things that can go wrong with growing fruit. There are early frosts, many types of weeds, thrips, scabbing, and, well, I would go on but this is the Faith Column, not my dad's newsletter.

For good fruit to grow, there has to be a lot of work done. There has to be a caretaker for the fruit, with lots of patience to put up with everything that can and will go wrong. The caretaker needs to have someone that he can consult, someone that will know what to do if there are some thrips or an early frost. It takes a lot of knowledge to know how to take care of everything that could go wrong with the fruit. The caretaker then needs to put endless hours into tending to the fruit. This can include all sorts of things - weeding, spraying, covering with straw, putting up nets, and more. The labor that goes into fruit production is not easy at all, and requires lots of persistence. Sometimes it doesn't work out, no matter how hard the caretaker tries. A few times, everything will work out and good fruit is produced. Now, if we replace "fruit" with "humans" and inflictions like thrips, hail, and weeds with problems like bad relationships, deaths of family members, and abuse, then this tale starts to sound a bit more like what most people live with every day. There are endless things that can go wrong with human beings, and we all need a gracious caretaker to watch over us. This caretaker works in many different ways through people in our lives. God has a way to fight through our humanistic problems. He has doctors, mentors, pastors, teachers, friends, and lots of other ways to help us. This process may be slow, or in some cases fast, but he can help us to produce good things. He has the knowledge, and he shares a lot of it in the Bible. God is the best caretaker of all, as he knows exactly what we need, and he will never leave us or forsake us. Our lives may never be perfect. However, we have our caretaker, who knows how to take better care of us than even my dad knows how to take care of plants. He can work through these problems, and even in our weedy lives, he can produce something better than fresh strawberries or raspberries.