“See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Heb. 12:15
Summertime in the United States is when we typically enjoy warmer weather, more hours of daylight, outdoor activities, and nature’s bounty of fresh fruit. Berries, cherries, melons, nectarines, and plums abound, but my summertime favorite are peaches. A fresh, juicy peach on a hot summer day is delicious and nutritious.
I am proud to proclaim that here in California more peaches are grown than the other 32 peach-growing states combined (USDA Report). California clingstone peaches are harvested from mid-July to mid-September, while the California freestone varieties are harvested from April through October. That’s why August is national Peach Month – it’s the heart of peach harvest!
Recently while out shopping, I took my time selecting several of these downy, dark yellow fruits highlighted with a red, sun-kissed blush. They were firm with just a hint of give and would ripen to perfection after a day or two in a brown paper bag. I smelled their scent before opening the bag. Biting into the juicy, fragrant flesh I was disappointed to discover that one of my perfect looking peaches was not so sweet. There was a bitterness to every bite.
What I learned is that when the plant becomes overly stressed, it increases the production of cucurbitacin. Normally, cucurbitacin stays concentrated in the branches and leaves, acting as a deterrent to creatures, that might eat them. However when the plant has become subject to stress—lack of sun, or cooler than normal temperatures, lack of water, or poor soil that doesn’t have enough nutrients—the fruit can become bitter.
Pastors’ wives, like peaches, can also become bitter when overly stressed.
Unfortunately, Covid-19 (and its variants) has added immeasurable stress to all of our lives—illness, deaths, quarantine, church closures, viral services, church re-openings, members gone MIA—the list goes on and on. The past few years have taken their toll on us in countless ways. And yet, we have been blessed with countless opportunities to learn to manage stress and become stronger and sweeter.
Get plenty of “Sonshine” by spending time in God’s presence (quarantine with Him on a daily basis).
“For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” Ps. 84:11
Stay warm by staying connected. Don’t withdraw from others.
“Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone?” Eccl. 4:11
Stay hydrated with Living Water.
“Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” John 4:13-14
Tend to the soil of your heart.
“Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the LORD, till He comes and rains righteousness on you.” Hos. 10:12
Beloved, until we go Home to be with the Lord, difficult days and stressful seasons will be an ongoing part of life. However, as we commit to cultivating our faith we will become fruitful and not bitter.
“But we know all things works together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Rom. 8:28
What a peach of a promise! 🍑