I'm really enjoying my blueberry bushes. In fact, it is pretty safe to say that I love my blueberry bushes. They were a special gift to me from God. I've no doubt about that. The man across the street tells me they have been there for years and years and years. But I know that those bushes are my special gift from God ... that even as God prompted some other person to plant those bushes, He was thinking of just how much He loved me. So to say that those bushes bring me a lot of joy doesn't even begin to describe what I feel each time I step outside with my colander to collect blueberries.
The bushes are loaded with berries ... plump and juicy and sweet to the taste. I love blueberries. I adore eating them. I simply cannot get my fill. But even the chore of picking them is a blessing to me. You see, every time I step outside to pick blueberries, it seems like I am mostly alone. There is a quietness as I hang out there in my side yard ... nestling myself in the branches as I reach and stretch to select the ripest berries. My mind and my heart usually turn to God. Sometimes I pray. Sometimes I just enjoy the silence ... the simple acting of being .... of allowing my soul to simply be in the presence of almighty God.
It seems that one particular thought keeps coming to my mind over and over while I'm at the blueberry bushes ... this idea of "first fruits." It's not something that we talk about a lot in regular conversation. In fact, I don't know that I've ever even heard someone use the words "first fruits" unless it was a preacher in the pulpit or a new mom telling all about her baby's fascinating new eating habits ... and yet, God has this to say about first fruits:
Bring the best of the first fruits of your soil to the house of the Lord your God. Exodus 23:19
Wow. I don't know if I ever paid attention to that verse ... or truly even realized it was there in the Bible. And yet this particular verse keeps coming to my mind as I pick my blueberries. I've been trying to allow God to speak to me on this, so what I'm about to write hasn't been checked or researched. It's mostly what I've been observing on my blueberry bushes and what I think God is trying to show me. As Joel would say, "This isn't fact. It's just what I think I might know."
It seems to me that the first fruits off my blueberry bushes were just naturally plumper and juicier and sweeter. As the season has gone on, the berries have become a little smaller, a little harder and a littler more tart. I've also noticed that when I pick the ripe berries, the ones on the same stem that haven't ripened yet are then able to grow to a larger size ... compared to when I don't pick the ripe berries immediately, the ones that aren't ripe yet tend to ripen more slowly and never grow as big.
I've wondered this ... could it be true that in our lives the first fruits of any labor get more of our energy, more of our excitement and more of our efforts so that the first portion is truly the best of the best? If that's the case, I want to give God that portion. He deserves my best efforts, my best in everything. His portion should come first simply because it is a way I can show Him my adoration. Giving God my first fruits is then a form of worship.
Additionally, I noticed the verse said to bring the best of your first fruits. What I've noticed with my own blueberry bushes is that at the beginning of the season, there really was a larger selection to choose from. Even though my bushes are loaded now, the selection isn't quite as good as it was 2 weeks ago. At the beginning, I could choose the best of the best, a high quality. I want to give God my very best, so I should give him my first fruits so that He really does receive the highest quality I've got to give.
Finally, it seems to me that in picking the "first fruits" it allows the rest of the fruits to grow into plumper, juicier, sweeter fruits. I'm not a scientist, but here is my thought: When I pick the ripe blueberry, it allows the energy in the leaves to then be used on the other berries that aren't ripe yet. However, if the ripe blueberries aren't picked, then the leaves still have to send some of their energy to those berries, which means that there isn't as much energy to send to those unripened berries ... meaning they can't grow and develop and grow as large. I take that to mean that in my life when I choose to give my first fruits to the Lord, what remains behind will be blessed in a bigger way.
I'm trying to give my first fruits to God ... the first portion of my day, the first portion of my money, the first portion of my "free time", etc. It's hard. I'm sometimes selfish. I sometimes don't want to give up what I all too often see as rightfully mine. But I'm trying to see things God's way. More importantly, I'm trying to do things God's way.
(picture of my special blueberries)