Tending an orchard is a lot of work! Even before the first fruit tree is planted, an aspiring orchardist (yes, that’s a word!) needs to carefully plan layouts and planting methods: ensuring that each tree will have access to sufficient sunlight. From that point on an orchardist waters, prunes, manages pests and disease, fertilizes, and mulches – are you exhausted yet!? All of this is done with at least one primary goal in mind: the fruit!
Yet for most orchardists, the most difficult part their work is not the hours of labor involved – it’s a process called ‘thinning fruit.’ A typical fruit tree tends to produce more fruit than the tree can actually support! Left untended, all of the fruit will be undernourished, crowded, smallish, and less flavorful.
So an orchardist’s unfortunate responsibility is to actually remove smaller, crowded, or deformed fruit before it can fully develop – keeping only the best. And this is hard! Unlike the pruning process, where undesirable elements are cut from the tree, ‘thinning fruit’ removes something good! The orchardist must thin the precious crop in order to ensure the quality of the fruit. Without removing some fruit, none of it would be very good.
(Many thanks to Rob Greenslade for pointing me toward this awesome illustration!)
Ever since returning to Washington, our family has worked to apply the ‘thinning fruit’ principle. We always knew our time here would include opportunities to be involved in really good things, between ministry, family, and life in general. Yet we also knew it would be easy to get sucked into too many good things, and find ourselves neglecting the best which God has set before us! God has laid unreached people groups on our hearts, and asked us to take part in telling them about Him. Therefore, Amy and I have carefully worked to make sure that preparing for Mexico remained our top priority.
Today, only 79 days remain until we leave Spokane for Mexico. Now more than ever we find ourselves weighing each task and opportunity before us, asking whether this good thing is going to detract from our role in extending the reach of the Gospel. We’re beginning to let go of more secondary time commitments, searching for ways to further simplify existing projects, and questioning whether some tasks truly need doing. It’s a difficult process, but one which protects the ‘best’ fruit – so we count it worth the cost!
Take a moment to read this update from the Tepehuan church plant in Mexico, and see what some of the ‘best’ fruit can end up looking like!
Prayer Requests and Thanksgiving
- Amy and I have a ton to do right now! Please pray for us as we look for God to set our daily priorities, and feel the weight of much work that needs doing quickly!
- Our housing situation in Mexico for the next two years is now completely firmed up – something for which we are incredibly grateful!
- Our monthly financial support is now at 67% of our budget, praise God! We must be at 75% before New Tribes will allow us to finalize our travel plans (which needs to happen very soon). Please pray for God’s timing in this area as we continue partnership development.