Picking Blackberries. So this happened yesterday. I went to go pick some blackberries in my neighborhood and brought a 2 gallon Tupperware dish. As many that live in the PNW know, wild blackberry bushes grow EVERYWHERE.

For most people, they are a huge problem and will overtake any other plant. But for my story, I wanted to make a blackberry crisp. I had my container half way full and I was holding it in my left arm, picking berries with my right hand. I placed the lid underneath the container as not to lose it and just as I leaned over to get some plump-looking berries in a high place, the container slipped out of my arms and I lost about half of what I had already gathered into a place on the ground where I could not salvage the berries. The container was already half way full, so now I had half of a half. Bummer.

My first thought was to just quit and go home. I had been picking for about an hour at this point, the sun was coming out and it was getting a little toasty in my sweatshirt. Long sleeves are a must-wear for blackberry picking. But I quickly remembered I wanted to make a crisp for dessert and I needed more berries. Then I thought, maybe the Lord allowed this to happen because those were bad berries and I needed to make room for the best berries. It could happen. I was picking from several different bushes in different places.

In one place, I found huge berries, but they were growing under big grape leaves so the sun couldn’t get to them. Since I taste a bunch of berries as I was picking, I noticed that although they looked beautiful; they were very watery, but not as sweet. Then the third thought I had was I was not keeping a sure grip on my berries. I was negligent in maintaining the berries I had already picked because I had eyes on the bigger ones. I thought on these things and began drawing spiritual parallels.

First things first, don’t quit. I feel like it’s one of my mantras in life. Vince Lombardi said, “Never never never quit”. People can and do say a lot of things about me, but one thing I know they can’t say is that I’m a quitter. In fact, I’ve stayed in things way too long because I wasn’t going to quit. If I can give you any advice in life it’s this: keep going. No matter what hurt, pain, devastation or disaster comes your way, get up, dust off your knees and keep going. So many people quit before the miracle.

What if your breakthrough is right around the corner? King David was exiled from Israel and then cast out again from the Philistines and making his way back to the temporary city he was living in only to find it burned down and his wives taken captive. To add insult to injury, the men who had joined themselves to him wanted to stone him and blamed him for their losses. Instead of giving up, he encouraged himself in the Lord. Three days later he found out it was the time for him to step into kingship. (1 Samuel 30:6) Three days.

What if you quit just three days before your breakthrough? God always shows up on time- not my time and not your time, but on time. Keep going friend. “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians‬ ‭3:13-14‬ ‭

My hands are scratched up and they hurt this morning but last night’s blackberry crisp was amazing!Second, what if God is pruning your fruit? God prunes every tree, “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” John‬ ‭15:2‬ ‭What if all that fruit you picked was not as good as it looks? Boy, I can tell you there’s been a few times in ministry (and my life) that God was doing a pruning. It was hard. It hurt. It was so deep I wanted to quit.

People who leave a church will say they left because of a certain reason, but it’s most often an offense and to those I would say, “You didn’t leave of your own accord. God was pruning the tree”. Don’t get your panties in a wad, this is not true in every case; but I’ve seen this time and time again in multiple local fellowships. The Spirit spoke to me about this season and not only is there a separation taking place between the sheep and the goats, but I heard Him say that He was separating “the sheep from the sheep”. Not everyone is good for you. Just because they look beautiful, doesn’t mean they are.

The blackberries under the grape leaves looked perfect, but were not sweet. You dint want a watery crisp. Let God do His work. Maybe He has to upset your container to get rid of some things. Let Him. I heard a sermon from TD Jakes and this part has stuck with me, “If someone can walk away from you, let them go!” You don’t know who God is pruning from your life and protecting you from. We are rarely good judges of who or what is always good for us. He knows.

Last, I was negligent. We should always learn from our mistakes. Guess what? I stopped holding the container in that same way. I set it firmly on the ground while I was picking. Even if God is pruning, and He used my negligence; I can learn from it. In times of pruning, it is not only beneficial but it is critical to ask and seek the Lord on the “why’s”, “how’s”, “where’s” and “what’s”. How did this happen? Where was I negligent? Why was I negligent? and what can I do differently next time? I love the Proverb that tells us, “he that does not receive instruction is stupid”. I was negligent because I wanted the better looking berries and didn’t secure what I already had. There’s a lesson in there.

Let God discipline and instruct you. Ask a trusted friend how to navigate through certain problems. Seek wise counsel. Seek the Lord always. Maybe I was just negligent and I lost good fruit. The Lord wants our fruit to remain. Learn from your negligence. Don’t think about what will happen if you do/say something; think about what will happen if you don’t do/say something. Strengthen your hands.

Trust God with the outcome. He can do more with a negligent man who is repentant and teachable than a prideful and arrogant one. He is able to gather more fruit. Keep your eyes fixed on what you have, not on what you don’t have, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”” Hebrews‬ ‭13:5-6‬ ‭#runyourrace

To Learn More About Pastor Crystal please visit the Leadership Page

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