AS we approach the end of yet another wet summer, we are all too aware of the difficulties faced by our farming community. I really admire the fact that even after a tough year with low yields, farmers will faithfully start again in the autumn – preparing fields, muck-spreading, sowing seeds and doing all that is needed to ensure that for their part next year's harvest will be fruitful. Of course they can't control the weather but they will do everything else possible.
It seems to me farmers are 'glass half-full' kind of people, looking to the future with hope despite difficulties and prepared to dig in and help ensure a fruitful harvest.
Life can sometimes be like a long wet summer. We begin a new season with anticipation and hope, only to find that what we hoped for has not materialised due to circumstances beyond our control or because of bad choices we have made, or possibly a combination.
Jesus told a story about this. A man owned a fig tree that bore no fruit for three years. He wanted to chop it down, saying it was a waste of the soil. He was advised to leave it for another year but dig in fertiliser to see what happened. So the fig tree gets a second chance, the hope of fruit, and, who knows, perhaps it had never had the joy of fresh manure spread at its roots. But all was done to ensure a potential harvest.
We can be quick to 'write people off' and want to rip things out. We can make hasty decisions that we think will provide a quick dividend in our finances, relationships or spiritual well being. More often both patience and hope is required; a digging in of good things, encouraging words, loving friends and family and for me as a Christian, seeking the nurturing and loving presence of the God of the second chance.
Jesus tells us that God has a vision for our lives to be fruitful, to know joy, peace and fulfilment. Even when we rain on our own parade God is ready to forgive, invest in us and patiently wait as he encourages fruit to grow.
But our growth may require listening to things we have previously ignored, asking for forgiveness from others, from God, and forgiving others. For Christians a key ingredient for growth is looking to and listening to Jesus. He reminds us that God plants in our lives hope and purpose, and provides a way back, a second chance when the fruit fails to show. What do you need to dig into your life to realise your potential?