He is the Vine. I am the branch. A branch doesn’t do anything. It just sits there, attached to the vine, a conduit for nutrients and moisture, a support for the leaves and the fruit.
The fruit of the spiritual life is not the fruit of the branch but of the Vine, of the Spirit. Not of me. Considering our lemon tree and how the lemons grow is instructive. Water and nutrients come up the trunk along the branch and at certain points, cell by cell a stem begins to develop. At some point, known only to the stem, the cells begin to change and now it’s no longer a stem but a fruit. First no more than a swelling, then a small green nubbin, then larger and, ever so slowly, larger still. Gradually it takes on its distinctive lemon shape though it is still as green as the leaves around it and hard to spot when you just glance at the tree. As the months pass, it grows larger still, and during all that time if you were to pick it, it would be no good. It would be hard and dry and more bitter than sour, I think.
Finally, though, again with no visible sign or trigger, the ripening process occurs. The fruit goes from green to yellow and suddenly you have the lemon. Compared to the rest of it, the time of ripening is short. And after the fruit has ripened, it is only a month before it begins to fall from the tree and by then if the weather is right, the new blossoms have already come, starting the next batch of fruit.
That’s how it is with writing and I think that’s how it is with the spiritual life, as well. There is a long time of growth when the fruit is barely visible or isn’t ripe yet, isn’t useful. It just sits there on the tree, growing. The brnch just sits there, attached the trunk, delivering the nutrients, keeping the fruit off the ground. Most of all, fruit-bearing isn’t something the branch controls. Nor do we. Our job is to stay connected to the Vine and receiving the nutrients it provides (Filled with the Spirit and taking in doctrine). Those things plus the innate nature of the branch produces the fruit.