Soon after moving to Ohio, someone gave us some red raspberry shoots. Perfect, I thought, to plant along the chain-link fence that cordoned off part of our back yard.
Though I tried to enrich the hard clay with top soil and peat moss, the berries failed to thrive. At first I blamed the soil. Then I read about growing raspberries. They need plenty of sunlight. Big problem! Our yard contained several large trees that kept most of the area in shade during the growing season. The only sunny spot along that same back fence was my newly-created vegetable garden. I couldn’t plant raspberries among green beans and peppers.
The raspberries produced little over the years and in spite of cultivating and fertilizing, they gradually died out along the fence until I had only a small cluster of canes near the vegetable garden. I assumed this was the end of my unsuccessful berry venture; too much tree overhang; too many tree roots obstructing growth. But I was in for a lesson.
The berries needed light and nurture—and through the persistent probing of their long roots they moved to where they could receive it—right into a raised bed inside the garden where the soil had been enriched and fertilized. When I saw the multitude of vibrant berry shoots thriving in the ready soil the next spring, I made the raised bed their home. There they produced abundantly.
Stretched Their Roots
The Lord revealed valuable spiritual and life lessons through those raspberries! First were lessons of patience and persistence. It took those berries years to work their way to better circumstances. They came up every spring if they had the life in them to do so; they produced leaves and made the effort to blossom and fruit. Conditions outside of themselves often prevented that. So they stretched their roots continually toward more nourishing soil and sustaining light.
When they did produce fruit, I quickly learned that I needed to search for ripe berries from different angles. I’d think I’d picked every ripe one and then discover yet more berries underneath the leaves. Look from another side and find still more. Made me think of the way I should study the Bible. Don’t just read a verse and think I have it all. Read again—and again. Study from different views.
And moving: if I am not “growing and producing” as the Lord designed me, especially in my spiritual life, I need to “spread my roots” to discover where God’s nourishment is and move my whole self into his life-giving light. Never ought I, or you, be content with what does not nourish mind and soul for eternity.
Whatever obscures the light of Jesus; whatever draws away our nourishment in Christ, we need to proactively move away from it. It is painful to leave old roots behind, but if they carry no life of Jesus then we must move to where HE is!
Jesus said, “I am the light for the world! Follow me, and you won’t be walking in the dark. You will have the light that gives life” (John 8:12).