“You can’t rush fine fruit. Don’t try to harvest when you ought to be pruning. Take your time. Appreciate the process. This perspective helped immensely.”
by Beth Moore
“She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.” Proverbs 31:16 (ESV)
At one point in my life, I was terrified to turn to Proverbs Chapter 31 in my Bible.
I could flip from Proverbs 30 over to Ecclesiastes 1 like the pages were glued together. I’m pretty sure in those days I couldn’t have recited a single phrase of the chapter by heart. All I knew was that, whoever that Proverbs 31 woman was, she wasn’t me.
Given my difficult background and unstable home, nothing frightened me more than the fierce, familiar yellow of a tape measure. Because I was sure I wasn’t going to measure up.
Over time, however, I came to love this passage. I no longer saw the Proverbs 31 woman as a threat. I saw her as, quite literally, a host of possibilities. She loved her home, and she also traveled. She was family-oriented and business-oriented. She could throw her head back and laugh over the future, yet she never forgot the poor. I came to like her. And to want to be like her. And to pray to be like her.
The line in the poem that became my unexpected favorite in the last two years is found in verse 16: “She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.”
Perhaps she never more beautifully reflected the image of her Creator than when she put her hands to the soil. One of the earliest facts we learn about God is that He is a Planter. A Gardener.
I’m rarely bothered by the reminder that work preceded the fall of humanity in the Garden. Work was not part of the Curse (found in Genesis 3). It was the call of God to come, take part with Him and contribute to His world. He fashioned us with a need to contribute. In fact, I believe it’s quite possible we can live with pain more easily than purposelessness. I think most of us yearn to be part of something important. Something enormous.
And we are.
We who call Jesus Lord are part of the Kingdom of God, called to contribute to the only thing that will outlast time.
But more often than not, it takes time to do what outlasts time. So slow it down a little bit. Take some time. Go deep, not just fast. He’s the Holy Spirit, not the Holy Sprint. Pay attention to the process. Fast fruit is never ripe.
We’re being infected with impatience in our culture. Before a word hits our tongue, we’ve published it on social media. Before the second song in a worship service, we’re checking our phones. We want our online orders overnighted, or at least I do. We want to be grown — without ever growing.
But that’s not God’s way.
He planted the Garden of Eden. He didn’t just landscape it, sliding potted plants off the back of a flatbed truck into pre-fertilized soil from huge plastic bags.
Yes, Proverbs 31:16 has become one of my favorites, especially on a recent project, because I’m reminded that fruit-bearing takes time.
The research, writing, rewriting and fine-tuning process feels like the tilling, planting, grafting, watering, pruning, inspecting and harvesting of a vineyard. I told myself things like, You can’t rush fine fruit. Don’t try to harvest when you ought to be pruning. Take your time. Appreciate the process. This perspective helped immensely.
And this is true of virtually any God-ordained work. It’s His way. In due season, He says you will reap if you do not give up (Galatians 6:9). So what if everybody speeds past you? Let them. If they don’t slow down, all they will have is a harvest of seeds and sprouts. No stalks.
“With the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.” Whatever work you’re cultivating, that’s a vineyard you’re growing, beloved sister. God intends it to be gorgeous. Take your time, and the fruit will be sweet … and lasting.
Lord, thank You for growing me into the person You want me to be. Please let my life bear fruit, and give me patience when that process takes longer than I think! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.