Some spiritual life lessons I’ve learned from my raspberry patch:

  • If you don’t cut out deadwood before the branches grow, it makes it harder to get at the fruit. Last year’s branches may have been good, but they need to be cut out if they’re no longer productive.

Sometimes we hang onto things that not only don’t produce spiritual fruit, but hinder other parts of our walk with God. They take up space, or act as barriers that hamper the harvest.

  • Some fruit is obvious and easy to pick, but much of it is hidden unless you really look for it. It’s helpful to crouch down or get on your knees to look up at the branches from underneath. Often the biggest and ripest berries are only visible from this position.

If we really want God to show us the best he has for us, we need to get down to serious praying.

  • Fruit that looks ripe isn’t always. Some berries ripen unevenly, and only the side toward the sun is red. If it doesn’t pull off the core easily, it’s not ready to be harvested yet.

We ripen spiritually when we’re facing toward the Son, but the process is often uneven. We may want to produce something for God before we’re mature enough. We need to expose our less mature parts to the Son to make sure we’re ready to produce optimal fruit. When we’re encouraging others to serve, it’s wise to see if they’re ready before we pull too hard.

  • Pick the fruit when you can see it, even if it means a long reach. It may look more easily accessible from the other side, but you may not still be able to see it from a later vantage point.

When God clearly shows us what needs to be done, we’ll do well to respond without waiting for a more convenient time or place.

  • Look at the branches from several angles, gently lifting or moving them to expose the fruit. Many berries are hidden by leaves.

God may have several ways he wants us to gather fruit. We have to be willing to gently lift up or move others for some time before the fruit is exposed.

  • Wear protective clothing. There are more thorns than berries, and if you’re serious about gathering fruit, you’re going to encounter lots of prickles. Covering your arms and legs helps prevents scratches.

There will be stings, both from a fallen world and from Satan. Don’t be surprised; do be prepared.

  • When your hands are already full, don’t try to add one more “big one.” Wait until you’ve safely deposited what you already have, or risk losing some or all of it.

In our zeal to work for the kingdom, we have to recognize that we’re not required to do it all. When we already have our hands full, we need to finish those tasks before we take on another one, or ask God how to rearrange our priorities.

  • Put your fruit in the right kind of container and watch your step. I find it easiest to set a flat-bottomed container on the ground and leave both hands free. Make sure your container isn’t easily upset and be mindful of where you’re walking.

It’s crucial to let God lead every step we take. We may be trying to do a good thing, but is it a God thing – assigned to us at this time and place? Do we have the right equipment? Without His guidance, we’re liable to put our foot in it.

  • Enjoy what God has provided. Don’t let it go to waste. Share it with others, and give thanks.