“A big elm in a single season might make as many as six million leaves, wholly intricate, without budging an inch; I couldn’t make one.” — Annie Dillard
In the movie, “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” (the old one with the terrible special effects and a tragic absence of Johnny Depp), the lucky children who tour Willy Wonka’s candy factory visit various departments of the production facility. Confections abound, including, but certainly not limited to, gummy bears larger than bowling balls.
At one juncture, they enter a room of brightly colored wallpaper depicting vivid fruit. Wonka tells the children to lick the wallpaper because the “Strawberries really taste like strawberries, and the snozzberries really taste like snozzberries.” The children all stare agape as he describes this delicacy, until he mentions the snozzberries. The trance breaks. One particularly disbelieving youth declares, “There’s no such thing as a snozzberry.”
Visions of fruit also appear in the scriptures. Good trees bear good fruit. Bad trees bear bad fruit. The fruits of the spirit stem from a life lived in Christ. Fruit conveys, in tangible form, the intangible sweetness of a life well lived, with juice more succulent than candy, and refreshment better than anything artificially produced. But how does this fruit appear? And what dictates the form in which it grows?
A few years ago a friend discussed the imagery of God as the vine and us as the branches. He questioned me, “What is our job as the branch?” Always quick with a response, I replied, “To produce fruit.”
He looked at me and simply said, “No.” I doubled back in my mind, baffled as to what I missed. He explained, “Our sole job is to stay connected to the vine. Then the fruit just comes.”
I thought about these words for a while. My first response bordered on anger. All I have to do is hang on?! I want to produce something, and I want to know what it is that I produce!
Then my quasi-anger transformed into relief.
All I have to do is hang on. The fruit comes. I no longer have to attempt the impossible task of understanding, implementing and accomplishing fruit production. I no longer have to worry about whether grapes, oranges, apples or strawberries will sprout from my branches.
I just have to hang on. My focus can be singular and sound. My energy can be dedicated to one thing instead of divide anxiously, and ineffectively, among many. God knows the fruit he wants me to produce, and perhaps it will be something radical, something beyond my comprehension. Perhaps it may actually be a snozzberry.
What is your job as a branch?
Why is it hard to believe that your purpose is so singular and so simple?
What fruit is being produced in your life?
What is your favorite fruit?
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