Fruit Through the Drought
"But I will bless the person who puts his trust in me. He is like a tree growing near a stream and sending out roots to the water. It is not afraid when hot weather comes, because its leaves stay green; it has no worries when there is no rain; it keeps on bearing fruit." – Jeremiah 17:7-8
In California, we have just emerged from record droughts. In fact, a popular yard sign designed to encourage water conservation read, “brown is the new green.” Things were getting pretty brown around here. I’m glad the drought is over!
The drought did serve an interesting purpose. In part, it inspired many farmers to reconsider a technique called dry-farming. On dry-farms, crops are not irrigated. They depend fully on the naturally occurring moisture that farmers trap in the soil though tilling and rolling the topsoil. One dry-farmer notes, “Dry-farming techniques train the roots to go deep seeking water. Irrigation encourages the roots to stay shallow.”
The results, or fruit, of dry-farming, surprised me. While the quantity is less, the quality is superior. Tomatoes have more flavor. Grapes are more potent, which results in a more robust wine.
Isn’t it interesting that in a time of drought, a plant can still produce some of the most delicious and useful fruit? Even superior fruit? So long, of course, as the farmer knows what he’s doing. Dry-farming isn’t for fancy farmers.
We all go through trials and seasons of drought - when the heat is on and the well runs dry. We all know what it’s like to feel there’s nothing coming into our lives that can quench our thirst, but we’re still expected to give, produce, and live fruitful lives. How are we supposed to do that when we feel so depleted, discouraged, or disrespected? When I’m experiencing a trial, I just want to shrivel up and tell the world not to expect anything from me, least of all patience or kindness. Well, it’s a good thing our Farmer knows what He’s doing.
In a season of drought, you and I can choose to maintain our shallow roots and wait for rain. We can choose to remain dependent on outside sources, like circumstances and other people, or even ourselves. Or, we can allow those seasons of drought to mold and shape us through complete dependence on God our Farmer. Maybe He’s training your roots to go deeper and seek the life-giving water that only He can give.
Jeremiah 17:7-8 talk about a tree that has been transplanted by a stream. In times of drought, it need not fear because its roots go deep to the ultimate source of life. This is the tree that never fails to bear fruit. This is you and me when we depend on God and draw our hope, our strength, our confidence from Him.
Let’s take a look at three traits of this tree and see how it applies to our lives:
1. The tree is satisfied.
Verse 8 tells us the leaves on this tree “are always green.” Have you ever seen a plant that needed water? Come to my house and I’ll show you several. The leaves start to shrivel and brown. Clearly, the plant is in need. But not the tree by the stream. It is fully satisfying and flourishing. When you and I depend on God, we are fully satisfied. When our roots are planted in His Word, we are satisfied.
2. The tree is secure.
The roots of this tree have been “sent out.” They extend far beyond the surface of the soil. They are deep and established. Trees with deep and established roots are not easily removed. This tree will not be blown over by wind or yanked out by man. When our roots are deep and secure in God, we are able to face and withstand the droughts in life. We will not be blown over or yanked out.
3. The tree is successful.
If you look at a vineyard on a dry-farm and compare it to an irrigated vineyard, it will appear the irrigated vineyard is flourishing and the dry vineyard is languishing. But remember, the dry-farm produces the superior fruit.
When we look at those depending on themselves and their circumstances, it can be easy to conclude they are flourishing. But turn off the tap and they will wither away. Their roots are too shallow. The tree planted by the stream, however, continues to bear fruit despite the drought. Its roots are deep. One commentator notes, “Trials test the reality of faith and spiritual works… In God’s hands, what would ultimately hurt His children instead deepens spiritual roots and produces new fruit.”
God wants to produce superior fruit in and through you, not just fruit that looks good. Superior fruit is the fruit of the Spirit, being conformed to the image of Christ, and spiritual growth. That is fruit that lasts. That is true success. And that is what is grown and produced in us when we send our roots deep into God’s Word and depend completely on Him, especially through seasons of drought.
Billy Graham said, “Faith grows when it is planted in the fertile soil of God’s Word.” Are you experiencing a trial or season of drought? Where are your roots? Send them deep into God’s Word. Allow it to nurture you and sustain you. Depend fully on the Farmer. He knows what He’s doing.