Thursday, June 20, 2019

Are You Flourishing?

The Kittitas Valley (with irrigation) where my parents have lived since 1980 (North Cascades in distance)
When I visit my family in Central Washington State each summer, I am struck by the effects of irrigation. Without it, the landscape is a desert with only dusty-looking sagebrush, sand, and rocks. Wherever there are irrigation ditches, tall, green trees flourish.

Land between the Kittitas and Yakima Valleys without irrigation
The primary industry of that region is the production of fruit: orchards of luscious apples, peaches, pears, apricots, prunes, cherries cover the hillsides everywhere, made possible by irrigation. My brother and two nieces have spent many years working in the fruit industry in the Yakima Valley.

In fact, about 11 billion apples are grown and handpicked in Washington State every year. According to the Washington Apple Commission: "If you put all of the Washington State apples picked in a year side-by-side, they would circle the earth 29 times."

My niece in one of their orchards
Not only is Washington the nation's largest producer of apples, it holds the largest market share of  red raspberries. Washington leads the nation in the production of twelve agricultural commodities:

Red raspberries, 90.5 percent of U.S. production
Hops, 79.3 percent
Spearmint Oil, 75 percent
Wrinkled seed peas. 70.4 percent
Apples, 71.7 percent
Grapes, Concord, 55.1 percent
Grapes, Niagara, 35.9 percent
Sweet cherries, 62.3 percent
Pears, 45.6 percent
Green peas, processing, 32.4 percent
Carrots (2011), 30.6 percent
Sweet corn, processing (2011), 29 percent

The land also abounds with wide fields of timothy grass (hay), wheat, alfalfa, corn, potatoes, carrots, peas, sunflowers, etc. And irrigation makes it all possible.

The words of Psalm One immediately come to my mind. It describes the righteous as being "like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatsoever he does prospers" (vv. 2, 3, NIV).

And Proverbs 11:30 says, "The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life," and couples that with the thought that "he who wins souls is wise." 

In 1 Peter 3:15, we find two aspects of soul winning: (1) living the lifestyle that attracts people to ask you to give the reason for the hope that you have; and (2) the continual preparedness to win souls when the opportunity arises.

To be soul winners, we must walk our talk!

Without water, trees do not flourish. Without Christ, we are dead in trespasses and sin. 

One of the symbols of the Holy Spirit in the Bible is water. Just as water is necessary for physical life, so the "washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior" (Titus 3:5-6, NIV) is the means of our spiritual life and vitality. In order to win souls, we must first be "trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified" (Isaiah 61:3b, NKJV).

The Holy Spirit wants to grow the fruit of the Spirit in us: love, joy, peace, longsuffering [patience], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Galatians 5:22, 23). Only then will we be effective soul winners.

Are we trees of righteousness? Are we flourishing? Are people attracted to Jesus in us?

O Holy Spirit, bathe us, refresh us, and renew us in His love and power!    

Books by AnnaLee Conti (click name to read more about her books)


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