God has created us in His image. He has given us divine potential or “spiritual fruit”: gifts and talents we can discover and develop throughout our lives. Sometimes they are apparent and obvious. From a very young age we can begin to develop and enjoy them. Others are obscured; hidden beneath shortcomings only to be freed and discerned as we become willing to turn to the Lord for help in letting go of and overcoming weakness.
“And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.” (Ether 12:27 emphasis added)
Suppose when we are born we each have our very own spiritual fruit tree—let’s say it is an orange tree. Each orange represents a strength, gift or talent. The low-hanging fruit is easy to pick, even for a small child. We must remove the peel which encases the sweet, delicious orange full of vitamins and goodness. That requires some work. As soon as we become aware that it is there, and someone teaches us how to pick and peel it we can eat the spiritual fruit and grow stronger and more capable.
A new baby is too weak to roll over or sit up alone. But as loving parents nurture and feed the child s/he grows stronger and through determined effort learns to sit, crawl, walk, run and climb. The capabilities of the miraculous body created for this child develop and strengthen as s/he works at those skills, too young to be afraid of failure or hard work. The youngster develops spiritually as well as physically, developing wonder, faith, gratitude and a sense of sacred awe.
At some point, we will have picked and eaten all of the low-hanging fruit, but there is still more on our tree. The higher fruit is more difficult to see and reach. We might need to climb the tree or get a ladder. Climbing, stretching and reaching may be outside of our comfort zone. We may feel scared and off balance. But the Lord holds the ladder and stands beneath the tree prepared to catch us if we fall. If we listen, He tells us where to reach and how to obtain the spiritual fruit. But He won’t pick or peel it for us.
As we mature into adulthood we develop fears and bad habits that keep us from exploring and finding more gifts, talents and strengths. If we focus on the ground and don’t look up at the beautiful tree, we may not even realize there is more fruit. Writing an inventory of our shortcomings and weaknesses helps us spot the spiritual fruit. We may not have any idea what wonderful gift lies within the rough, ugly peel, but we can turn to the Lord for help in becoming willing to do the work necessary to obtain the fruit, remove the shortcoming that encases it, and allow Him to replace the weakness with strength.
- What spiritual fruit have you already picked?
- What is stopping you from picking more?
- What will you do today to spot and reach for more?
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